07/10/2013 04:19 EDT | Updated 09/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Whitewashing With Sugar and Salt

A couple of weeks ago I was in a high-end gourmet food shop. One of the suppliers was doing a food demonstration promoting bottled soup. I am always interested, so I went over to try a sample. The soup was okay, though I doubt I would be tempted to pay the price to buy bottled soup. What I found interesting was the promotional card. This soup was free of white sugar and contained no white salt. It did however contain Himalayan Crystal Salt and had more than 450 mg of sodium per serving. The information went on and on in terms of what the product didn't contain. By the time people finished reading the information I am sure most would have been very confused.

It's not the type of salt that makes the difference in a product; it's the overall amount of sodium the product contains. Yes, the flavour may vary but salt is salt. The same is true for sugar. This promotion paints white sugar as bad but if the product contained honey or maple syrup or agave nectar as the sweetener, there would be no difference as to the nutrient contribution from the different types of sweeteners. In the same quantity they would all add a similar amount of sugar to the product without contributing any significant nutritional value beside energy.

Don't let advertising fool you. Read the Nutrition Facts Table to see exactly what the product's nutrient contribution really is. Don't be afraid to question the information if you are not sure. Don't be fooled by the large print shouting out what the company thinks you want to hear. Challenge the company to explain what the advertising is really saying.