Wheaties, the "breakfast of champions," contain more sodium per one-ounce serving than potato chips and most other common salty snack foods, a family practitioner warns in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Steven W. Luger, of Old Lyme, Conn., undertook an informal sodium-content survey after noticing that his own favorite cereal, Cheerios, had a high sodium content of 330 milligrams per ounce.
"My children eat them, I like them, they're low in sugar, they have no artificial color or flavors -- the ideal cereal, snack and finger food, right? Wrong!" wrote Luger in a letter to the journal.
Here are the results of Luger's sodium survey:
Wheaties (370 milligrams per ounce), Cheerios (330 mg.), Kix (315 mg.), Kellogg's Corn Flakes (280 mg.), Total (280 mg.), Wise potato chips (190 mg.), Lay's potato chips (200 mg.), Fritos corn chips (220 mg.), Cheetos cheese snacks (300 mg.) and Bachman twist pretzels (410 mg.).
Salt content is important, Luger said, because epidemiologic evidence suggests that a high-sodium diet "may contribute to the development of high blood pressure." Other evidence suggests that the earlier the diet begins the more harmful it is, and that high sodium consumption in adults is due partly to an acquired taste from eating salty foods during childhood.
The American Heart Association, among other groups, has recommended a reduction of sodium in the diet.
"In a nutrition-conscious society trying to avoid sugar, alcohol and additives in food for children," Luger wrote, "why add sodium when it's not needed?"