New low-fat and low-sodium products can help you meet your dietary goals, but you still must control how much of them you use.
I recently received in the mail a sample of "Papa Dash," subtitled "Lite Lite Lite Salt." And it really is light. Compare:
1 teaspoon of regular salt has 2,400 mg of sodium.
1 teaspoon of Morton's "lite" salt has 1,100 mg of sodium.
1 teaspoon of Papa Dash has 360 mg of sodium.
That means Papa Dash might work in decreasing your sodium intake -- if you cook without salt and then give a few shakes at the table.
But if you're someone who "salts to taste," shaking it on until food tastes like it used to, you're probably adding as much sodium as ever. To find out, measure for a while.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the daily maximum should be 2,400 mg, or about 1 teaspoon of salt. That includes sodium that occurs naturally in food and sodium added in processing, as well as the salt you shake on.
A glass of milk, for instance, contains 126 mg of sodium. One ounce of cheese contains 620 mg. Three ounces of chicken contains 75 mg. All should be counted toward your daily 2,400 mg. And processed foods contain even more sodium: Three ounces of Kentucky Fried Chicken has 600 mg, while Taco Bell's "taco light platter" contains over 2,000 mg.
If fat, rather than sodium, intake is what concerns you, you may be interested in a new sausage patty, "AU Lean," touted at a recent press conference.
The product was developed at Auburn University under the direction of Dale Huffman, Ph.D., who was also responsible for development of McDonald's McLean Deluxe. The research was funded by the pork industry, which is working very hard to bring you the meat you love with a lot less fat.
Both products use carrageenan, a plant carbohydrate that holds moisture, to replace some of the fat found in standard products.
And there is definitely a fat savings. Compare:
2 ounces regular sausage has 17.6 grams fat, 210 calories.
2 ounces AU Lean sausage has 7 grams fat, 114 calories.
How much fat should you eat daily?
Dieting women: 45 grams.
Women maintaining their weight and dieting men: 66 grams.
Men maintaining their weight: 100 grams.
Beware: Fat grams add up quickly. One AU Lean patty will fit into a lowfat diet, but three provide half your fat for a day when dieting.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.