The Assault on Salt (Part II)


OK, so this week I want to finish up our conversation about salt, which along with fat and sugar is the "unholy trinity" of the American diet….

So, if we can't use salt, how are we supposed to flavor our food??  First thing I would recommend is the pepper mill (no salt there!), also fresh herbs are tasty, wonderful and salt free.  You can make your own blend with combinations of garlic powder, parsley, rosemary, dill, cummin, curry powder etc etc.  Another option is to add lemon, lime juice and flavored vinegar.

How about salt substitutes?  Most salt substitutes contain potassium chloride which can taste like table salt, though sometimes with a slightly bitter taste.  Some people can actually benefit from the extra potassium but others need to be careful, particularly if you have kidney disease or if you take certain types of anti-hypertensive medications.  ICheck with your doctor before you start taking one of the salt substitutes.

Some over the counter medications, such as laxatives and antacids contain small amounts of sodium.  But some contain large amounts, two tablets of alka-seltzer has more than 1100 milligrams of sodium (ouch!!) from the sodium bicarbonate, that is the chemical that gives it the fizz.  As always read your labels.

If  you read my newsletter, you may recall that last May I wrote a newsletter called "Eat Food" (if you didn't it is archived on my website here:   


Basically the point of that newsletter was that the best kind of food is the freshest and least processed, well guess what..if you want to reduce your sodium intake your best bet is to avoid processed foods and eat fresh foods (fresh meat and poultry, fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and unprocessed grains).   


As a rule of thumb the more processed a food the more salt it has, here is an excellent example of how processing food increases its sodium content.  A plain baked potato has about 20 mg of salt, a medium serving of french fries will have 200 to 500 milligrams of salt, and a cup of potato-au-gratin from a dry mix…almost 1000 milligrams!!

If you have to buy packaged foods, please read labels and compare sodium content between different brands and even different products from the same brand, you will be surprised how widely it can vary.   

When you eat out ask the cook to not use salt and put the sauce on the side.  Often the sauce is the saltiest part of the meal.  Just because the menu option says "healthy" doesn't mean it is necessarily low in sodium.




Food                                                Sodium (mg)


Whopper with cheese                        1450  

Pasta sauce (canned) 1 cup             1025  

Soy Sauce 1 tbsp                               900  

Cottage cheese 1 cup                       800

Ham 2 oz                                             740

Tomato juice 1 cup                             650

Chicken McNuggets, 6                       600

Pickle 2 oz                                           570

Bacon 3 strips                                     550

Beef/Pork Hot dog                              500

Frozen Waffles, 2                                480

Bagel, Plain 3 oz                                 400

Corn, canned, 1/2 cup                        285


So you can see even foods we would normally think of as "healthy" can have a fair amount of sodium.  Canned corn for example, I was pretty surprised on that one.  As I keep trying to emphasize, please read the labels, you'll be surprised at what you discover.


If you are a bariatric patient or had bariatric surgery reading labels really should be something you should get comfortable with.  So now,  in addition to looking at fat content, sugar content, and calories I need you to start paying attention to the salt content.  Remember total sodium intake for the entire day should be about 2300 milligrams.




In March, we will be combining all the support groups and meet on March 9th.  Our guest speaker will be Dr. Lalla, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon,   who will be presenting Plastic Surgery Options and Body Contouring after Weight Loss Surgery.


The support group will take place at the Saint Barnabas Ambulatory Care Center from 6:00 – 7:30.  The address is 200 South Orange Avenue, Livingston.  Any questions please call 973-322-7433.



As always, thanks for reading and trusting me with your healthcare.

Michael Bilof

     Contact Information

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phone: (973) 218-1990

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