Since sodium plays different roles in specific food types, it is helpful to discuss the functions of sodium in the context of food categories. This section integrates the role of sodium in preservation and physical properties with its role in taste and flavor (described in Chapter 3) to provide a more complete picture of the multifunctional roles of sodium.
For each of the nine categories described below, data are provided on the average sodium content for representative items from that category (Tables 4-5 to 4-14). These data are derived from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Total Diet Study, which samples approximately 280 foods that are major components of the U.S. diet from four geographic locations around the country. The foods are sampled four times per year and tested for various contaminants and nutrients, including sodium (FDA, 2007). From the Total Diet Study data, both the number of milligrams of sodium per 100 g of food and the number of milligrams of sodium per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) have been computed (HHS/FDA, 1993).
Whole grains are naturally low in sodium. Table 4-5 lists the typical sodium content of commonly consumed grains. However, a number of products made from grains have added sodium, and these products are major contributors to sodium intake.
Salt is frequently added to breakfast cereals to improve flavor and texture (Brady, 2002). A survey of children’s cereals from around the world found that, on average, these products are about 1 percent salt by weight. When products are reformulated to reduce sugar content, the addition of