What's With All The Salt & Sugar In Everything?

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

In recent years I have begun to find that just about everything (that isn't cooked at home) is (gag) outrageously salty or sweet or both. Health issues aside, things are so salty and/or sweet that I can't even tolerate the taste. I can't taste the food anymore, just the salt (or sugar). Has anyone else noticed this? Deli food. Convenience food. It's as though the primary flavors out there these days are salt and sugar. Everywhere.

Some of the things that taste like a salt-lick are: bacon, ham, sliced deli meats and s/w meats of all types, sliced American cheese, mac & cheese (from box mix), and lately even canned biscuits, deli fried chicken, some canned soups, seasoned mashed potato mixes, and countless other things I just can't recall at the moment. The other day I bought cornmeal mix by mistake instead of cornmeal. It was so briny I could not use it.

The sugar issue is also out of control - and I like sugar. But not in everything, and not at such high quantities. I would like to be able to taste the food. (Although I prefer sugar to the corn syrup found in most things these days, for this discussion, I'm treating all sweeteners as one and calling them 'sugar'.) All canned baked and BBQ'd beans are disgustingly sweet. I can't eat them unless I find a brand that is less sweet and then add things to cut the effects of the sugar. Sandwich meats are often too sweet, especially those labeled as honey cured. I once bought a whole, BBQ chicken from a grocery store deli and was amazed and disgusted to find that I actually could not taste the chicken at all for the sugar. At 1st I thought I would be able to get around the problem by removing the skin, but the sugar (actually corn syrup) had been injected directly into the breast, thigh, and leg meat. It looked like chicken, but tasted like syrup.

There are many, many more instances of this problem. These are just a handful of the ones that come to mind. I'm not a great cook, so I use a lot of prepackaged and convenience foods - although I am starting to cook more now to get around this problem. I run into problems with things being horribly salty or sweet pretty much daily. It effects pretty much everything unless I make it from scratch (or someone else does).

Anyone else having this problem? Or is it just my taste buds?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Cheryl... regarding salt... I had my 'check-up' today... and when the DOC looked at my tongue he said i'm salt deficient and asked if I use salt.

I said nope... i rarely ever use it.

I know what you mean about salty foods. there are a lot of things i think taste salty, and just ICK.
I'm a label reader, especially when it comes to sugar [ I've recently gone off sugar completely ].

I know we chatted about Low Sodium broths... I think manufacturers add all that crap, salt and sugar, thinking it makes the product taste better... but the few of us?? who try to eat more natural, it makes the food taste nasty.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

It's amazing what real food tastes like; most people haven't a clue. Manufacturers add salt, sugar and a few other additives because they ARE addictive... and so you buy more. I've seen it in writing. I think sugar is the worst culprit, but salt is close on its heels...

I remember reading years ago that in the time of Henry VIII, foods were over-seasoned and over-sauced to mask rancidity. Doesn't surprise me anymore than over-seasoning what passes for food today.

I buy almost no foods from the supermarket anymore, just a few paper products mostly, and things like canning jars.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)


While I have made efforts to eat better, I do still eat my share of unhealthy foods. While I was working I ate restaurant food, fast food, deli food, and convenience items almost exclusively. I hated much of the stuff and longed for 'real' food but just didn't have the time and energy for all that cooking and cleaning. It was largely during that period of eating so much prepared food that I became acutely aware of all of the salt and sugar (and fat) in everything. It was disgusting.

Did your Dr do a blood test to access your sodium level? Seems that would be a more definitive method. My sodium level has always tested in the normal range, oddly enough, despite the tons of salt I no doubt consumed during the time I was eating out so much.

For the most part I don't have a salt shaker. I use a dash of [regular] salt in food prep, but rarely salt food at the table (once prepared). I have a few small containers of specialty salt for the rare occasions that I do want to add a sprinkle at the table (like the pink/red salt with Hawaiian clay).

I've been wondering if manufacturers may have more nefarious reasons for adding so much salt/sugar. For one thing, both products are preservatives, so now that we've gotten them to cut down on a lot of the chemical preservatives like BHA and BHT and the like, I wonder if they may be ramping up the salt and sugar for this purpose. (For instance, if you add just a tiny pinch, afew grains, of salt to a carton of milk when you 1st open it, you won't be able to taste that qty of salt in say a gallon of milk, but it will keep the milk fresh for several additional weeks.)

I also get the impression that they are using all the salt and sugar in an effort to add flavor to otherwise tasteless food. I say this because even though I hate the salt/sugar flavor, I often find that the low sodium versions of vegetables, soups, and such have no flavor at all, just mushy, water logged, tasteless vegetables. Between modifying plants to produce more (regardless of flavor or the lack thereof) and picking things when they are still partly or entirely green for better shipping results and cooking the life out of them in the canning process, there isn't an ounce of flavor left (or texture or probably nutrients). I think they try to put flavor back with salt and sugar.

Maybe most people like the taste of salt and sugar. I guess this must work for the masses. I've been surprised at how little traffic this thread has received. I didn't expect to be in the minority on this, but I would like to taste the peas, the carrots, the beans, the chicken, the...the actual food.

I applaud your decision to eliminate sugar from your diet. I think you will see great health benefits with that. I'm not ready to go to that extreme yet, but I am determined now to find a way to continue to cook my own food once I return to work as I cannot go back to eating the convenience stuff.

While, as stated, I applaud your decision to forgo sugar, I'm not really sure if that is entirely possible in our society, not if you wish to be religious about it. Sugar, corn syrup, and other sweeteners are so ubiquitous today. You can do a very good job of minimizing your intake of sugar, but I fear you may have to move in with the Amish if you are determined to eliminate ALL sugar. I mean these days sugar is in absolutely everything. They even inject it into meat now along with the salt water solution. What about eating out? Did you know that the secret to cooking 'restaurant' veggies is sugar? Top chefs insist the 1st thing you should do when cooking any vegetable is toss in a handful of sugar! I think you can only manage to eliminate all sugar from your diet if you only eat what you grow - and that includes a cow and some chickens.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)


I don't doubt the addiction premise also plays a part in this business of drowning everything in salt, sugar, and fat. I do think there may also be other reasons such as the preservative effect as mentioned above and to try to give some flavor, any flavor to totally lifeless, 'burned out' fruits and vegetables mass produced, shipped green, and processed to death these days.

As to your Henry the 8th theory. I'm pretty sure there is something to that, as well. Several decades ago - and food was practically 'virginal' then by comparison - I read a very interesting book on food industry practices. Some of the things I recall, esp those which favor your Henry the 8th theory include the following.

Milk that is no longer of drinking quality is used in products like yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. Some of the worst milk is used to make ice cream where the sugar and flavors mask the yuck factor. The most disgusting milk is made into chocolate ice cream since chocolate is such a strong flavor capable of masking almost anything.

Another item from the book that stuck with me all these years is ketchup. Tomatoes are graded from the perfect, shiny red ones to the bruised and borderline rotten ones. The pretty ones are sold as whole, ripe tomatoes. Those that are less than perfect are canned. The bruised, overripe, squished ones become paste, sauce, and juice. The last category, the borderline rotten ones become ketchup where the combination of vinegar, sugar, and spices is sufficient to mask the yuck factor.

This same reasoning continues for pretty much all fruits and vegetables. Meats work in a similar manner with the yucky stuff going in heavily spiced things like sausage and the like.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Cheryl... DOC just looked at my tongue and said i was deficient. first he asked if i was thirsty all the time and i said yes, i just drink more water. Did a blood draw at that APT, should get the results back by Saturday. [he's in that office Wed's and Sat's.]

and as for giving up sugar... had to chuckle about the Amish comment. I guess I do not intentionally consume sugar. no dessert unless they are sugar free, Splenda in my coffee, that sort of thing. Basically i've gone back to the low-carb way. no simple sugars, white flour, white rice - etc.

When i get back my blood results, i'll see what the salt level was and let ya know.

I'm trying not to purchase any premade foods... though I do still hit the deli - that is a weakness... plus it's easy to whip up a sandwich. But i'm trying to cook 'real' foods... meat and veggies. that's about it.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't think there are more sugars and salts added than before. I think as we wean ourselves from the commericially prepared foods, our tastes adjust. Then, when we think we will have a quick food, our taste buds are assaulted by the lack of true taste and the overwhelming salt (sugar).

DH is on Splenda and I am learning to use it. It requires a lot less than the package even suggests. I have found from 1/2 to 3/4 or the recommended amount. For myself, I use local honey or pure cane sugar. I intensely dislike the sugar substitutes and would do without rather than use them.

I also have learned to read labels the hard way. I use lemon pepper and when I used a new container of it, I found the salt overwhelming. The previous brand I used had no salt in it. Yep, I'm one of those old fogeys with my readers on reading labels in the store!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

DreamofSpring, I'd be curious to know the name of that book you read so long ago. I post a lot of "real food" stuff on my blog, including a bit I just did about cranberries and the scarcity of fresh ones today. Mechanization now used for harvest destroys the cellular integrity of a high percentage the fruits, making them only suitable for immediate processing into cranberry juice or jelly/sauce.

pod, I agree with your point about our taste buds adjusting when we wean ourselves, but I also think the manufacturers use more additives than they once did. Thankfully, some additives are now banned, but some are hiding behind a plethora of chemical names that make reading labels difficult.

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

You have to be religious in label reading, I've found. Since embarking on our eating plan (twigs, berries, and camel fodder......) I can't tolerate alot of "junk" anymore, tho we occasionally "indulge". There are lots of things I'd like to buy to make but way too much salt in them. Pre-packed mixes, etc. And EVERYTHING has sugar.......but I admit I really do miss my sweets. But I can't tolerate alot of that anymore either. And that's probably a good thing, since i don't need it and it is not good for me anyway.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Cheryl --- I still havent chatted with the Doc yet, he should call me this afternoon -- but i went and picked up my blood test results. Sodium was right on the mark, as was everything... but my VitD, which was high -- so i will cut back on the supps.

best of all was my cholesterol results.... i was/am ecstatic.
Total = 173
Tri's = 62
HDL = 62
LDL = 99
VLDL = 12
Ratio = 2.8 Whoot Whoot.

I normally do not tell folks I am doing Low Carb - as so many PooPoo it... but the blood test dont lie... **big GRIN **

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

What WAS your Vit D level?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

130. With normal levels [according to the print out] 30-80 ng/ml. They listed 150 as toxic levels.

I dont know any previous levels... my Doc had been watching them - along with my Thyroid ... but I never knew what my count was.. he'd just say, up your VitD. At one point i was at 15,000IU a day, popping a ton of caps ... so i found one that is 10,000IU - taking 2 per day. which has obviously put me way over... so i'll drop to one a day until that bottle is gone.

My Sodium was 139 where 136-145 mmol/L is optimal.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Cool. I had my Vit D tested in Nov with other blood work, have to write for form to release the report to me.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

My DOC called and said my VitD is just fine. when I asked if it was too high - he said no, anything over 100 is good. He once told me that the USDA or would it be the AMA's levels are too low.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Both. LOL!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I know this is totally OT from Cheryl's topic... but i'm sure she wont mind the chatter....

on my test results my thyriod numbers were confusing to me... the T3 Free is high 487 where 230-420 is considered normal and my TSH was low 0.153 where 0.350-5.5 is considered normal.

when i asked him about that... he said that he does not understand why my numbers are like that... and he does this 'reflex' test - and can never get a 'responce' out of me... he does it every year with no results...

so -- he told me to go see a NUCCA Chiropractor. He thinks my body is "imbalanced" and once my spine is in correct alignment, he feels my thyroid numbers will be fine.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Hi Terese,

Wonderful news. Congrats on those fabulous numbers. I've been a little busy the last day or so, but will be back soon to respond to everyone. In the mean time, absolutely feel free to chat. Real conversations work this way, after all, and I'm happy to see you guys keeping the conversation going.

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