Every year food manufacturers dump about 5 billion pounds of salt into our foods. This is the third and final in a several part series about the use of salt in food manufacturing.
In the last two weeks we’ve given you reasons #1 and #2 for why food manufacturers put so much salt into our foods. #1. it’s a cheap ingredient, and #2. it masks the taste of chemicals and other bad tasting ingredients.
This week, we’ll discuss a third reason food manufacturers use so much salt: addiction.
It’s well accepted that like sugar and fat, salt moves through pathways in the brain to reach the pleasure zones. That means we react to foods the same way we react to other addictive substances including drugs, alcohol and nicotine.
What this means in practice is that when we eat salty foods it lights up the pleasure centers in the brain, which causes us to crave more salty foods. That’s why we eat more of those salty potato chips than we originally planned even though we keep telling ourselves to stop.
The interesting thing is we didn’t start this way. Research has shown that babies are born with an aversion to salt. They only acquire a taste for it once they start consuming foods with small amounts of salt.
So what’s in it for food manufacturers? Salt is a way to boost sales. When we develop a salt addiction, we naturally crave salty foods. So when we see something on the grocery shelf that we’re addicted to, we’ll buy even more.
Here’s the good news. Salt addictions can be broken. By easing back on your salt intake a little bit each day, you can break the salt addiction and actually change your palate within a matter of two to three months.