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The Breakfast Challenge


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in Foods






The Breakfast Challenge


In many ways breakfast is the biggest challnge for the LS/LF diet.  Obviously the traditional bacon and eggs is out. No problem, maybe you'll just move to soy-based imitation bacon and Egg Beater-like egg substitutes? Well, that would get the cholesterol down alright, but all the low cholesterol breakfast meat substitutes I have seen so far are sky high in sodium.


For example, the makers of Egg Beaters, "taste the healthy side of eggs", may not want you to know that their product has added salt and actually has 115 mg of sodium per serving (in this case 1/4 cup or the the equivalent of 1 egg) while a real egg has about 70 mg of sodium but a lot more cholesterol (212 mg).  Their "nutritional facts poster" compares the product to real eggs - leaving out all the inconvenient sodium information.  Now 115 mg is not a lot of sodium and Egg Beaters could be legally called a "low sodium" product.  But if you are also trying to get sodium down in your diet, which I assume many purchasers of this product are, who needs added salt?  (This discussion refers to Original Egg Beaters, the newer flavors have more sodium.)

The sodium content of egg substitute brands varies, check labels when you buy!



Maybe you want to try cereal instead?  Unfortunately, the American food processing industry isn't thinking of your needs. 


Cheerios makes a big deal about its impact on cholesterol levels.  They are not so open about the fact that the traditional Cheerios (yellow box as shown here) has the following top 5 ingredients: "Whole Grain Oats, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Oat Bran, Salt,"  and has 190 mg of sodium/serving.

Cheerios says 3 servings a day will help your cholesterol level - but they forget to mention that it would also contain 570 mg of sodium!

Hot oatmeal has no sodium and the same oat content.  Many Cheerios clones have lower sodium.

There are 3 types of oatmeal available in the US market: rolled oats, steel cut oats, and instant oatmeal.  The first two are usually minimally processed and usually contain no sodium, as opposed to Cheerios. 

Rolled oats are flat flakes that cook in boiling water.  Recipes usually say 5 minutes of cooking, but I like mine in about 2 which is both faster and makes a more crunchy dish.  Steel cut oats are cut up oat kernels, are nice and crunchy but takes up to 30 minutes to cook. (See McCann's website for options to decrease cooking time for steel cut oats.)  

Instand oatmeal is much faster as you just add boiling water and stir in your bowl.  It is great for travel as most hotel rooms have a coffee maker for boiling water.  Many brands have some added salt (Quaker Instant Oatmeal Regular, for example, has 80 mg of sodium/serving) and some flavored instant oatmeals actually have high salt levels, so check labels carefully.

Below is a table showing the 10 best selling cold cereals in the US and their sodium content. (None contain any cholesterol.)  Only one, Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats, meets the 140 mg cutoff that would allow it to be called "low sodium".  Despite all its "heart healthy" labeling, Cheerios is definitely not "low sodium".


Comparison of cold breakfast cereals

American Brand Market share Sodium mg/serving   Australian Brand Market Share Sodium mg/serving
General Mills Cheerios 11.3% 190   Sanitarium Weet-Bix 15.3% 112
Kellogg's Frosted Flakes 4.1% 150   Kellogg’s Just Right 9.2% 114
Post Honey Bunches of Oats 4.1% 150   Uncle Tobys Vita Brits 6.2% 162
Kellogg's Special K 4.0% 220   Kellogg’s Sultana Bran 5.2% 265
Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats 3.2% 5   Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain 4.7% 275
Kellogg's Raisin Bran 2.9% 350   Kellogg’s Special K 4.3% 280
General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch 2.6% 220   Kellogg’s Coco-Pops 3.8% 300
Kellogg's Froot Loops 2.5% 150   Kellogg’s All Bran 3.3% 340
Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch 2.4% 202   Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 3.1% 408
General Mills Lucky Charms 2.4% 190   Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles 3.1% 413

Note: US market share data is from www.lavasurfer.com/ which in turn gets its from 2005 A.C. Nielsen Financial Services for the 52-weeks ended July 16, 2005.  Sodium data is from  Calorie Count. Australian 1997 data is from www.nutritionaustralia.org/ which gives sodium levels/100g.  Data shown has been normalized for 40g as a serving size estimate whereas US data uses serving sizes that each vary somewhat from 40 g.


For comparison, the right 3 columns show the top selling brands in Australia.  Note that the top 2 with a total 24.5% market share meet the low sodium test.  Interestingly in Australia the sales ranking is inverse to the sodium ranking, while in the US they seem independent.

Fortunately, among mainstream cereals there at least are three other low sodium options in addition to Frosted Mini Wheats:

Post Shredded Wheat Spoon Size
3 mg sodium/serving
Quaker Oats Life
90 mg sodium/serving
Weetabix 130 mg sodium/serving


Post (formerly Nabisco) Shredded Wheat and Shredded Wheat Spoon Size are the only mainstream cold cereals that contain virtually no sodium. (Sources vary but all indicate <5 mg/serving.) It also contains no cholesterol and only 1 g total fat. Shredded wheat clones have similar nutrition but some more exotic variants may not.

(Shredded wheat history)

Most, but not all, of the cereals made by Kashi are low sodium or no sodium and are usually found in mainstream stores. 

Note that supermarket private label clones of national cereal brands often have different nutritional information than the original and sometimes are healthier.  Thus real Grape-Nuts have 290 mg of sodium/serving while Giant's private label clone has only 210 - not "low sodium", but a lot closer.

Your local health food store may have other cereals from processors that are not Fortune 500 firms that are low in sodium.  My local store has several no sodium or low sodium cereals from Nature's Path including an imitation of Cheerios and also has no salt/low fat granola in bulk.  They also sell LS/LF granola in bulk.  (Many name brand granolas are actually quite high in fat.)

Lowsaltfoods.com has a page with salt content of many breakfast foods, but no fat information.

Baked Goods/Bread

Traditional breads in the US and Europe are made with yeast and salt.  These two ingredients interact, so just leaving out the salt doesn't give you proper rising.  The kind folks at King Arthur Flour have told me over the phone that generally you can reduce salt amounts by half in home recipes without bad results.  They even have a traditional Tuscan no salt bread recipe - it seems that in olden days salt was subject to a high tax in Tuscany so the peasants improvised and developed a taste for this modified bread. Low salt cookbooks do have modified recipes for low salt or even no salt bread - but don't expect no salt bread to be the same as Wonder Bread.

Commercial sodium-free bread can be made, although it is not necessarily the same texture and taste as conventional recipes, and is widely available in Australia.  It also spoils faster than normal bread so may need to be refrigerated or frozen.  However, sodium-free bread is extremely hard to find in the US for reasons that are unclear.  I have never seen a low salt white bread in a store.  Also the low salt breads I have encountered have been whole wheat and variants thereof.  (But if you want white low salt bread, just make it yourself with recipes that we link to.) Some ideas for finding low/no sodium bread in stores:

Trader Joe's should be commended for their decision to stock whole wheat no sodium bread in many stores.  (They have told me that it is not available in all stores due to the lack of suppliers in all regions.)  

• Sodium-free bread might be found in gourmet stores (at high prices) or in health food stores.

Shiloh Farms Organic Sprouted Seven Grain Salt Free Bread comes from a small Pennsylvania firm and is available in "800 neighborhood health food stores from New England to the Mid Atlantic States".

Vermont Bread Company makes a "Sodium Free Whole Wheat" that is carried by Whole Foods Market.  Their website does not indicate mail order sales, but the package says you can order by calling them at 802-254-4600.

• Garden City Lavash Roll-Ups are available for kids' sandwhiches with only 20 or 30 g of sodium/serving.  It is sold at Whole Foods and other organic stores.

• MegaHeart.com lists some sources for no salt bread in various parts of the country.

• Be careful about switching to flour tortillas as a bread alternative: Most brands are rather high in sodium.  Lower sodium brands may be available in your area if you look carefully. Corn tortillas are usually low salt.

Please tell me about other brands and sources and I will list them. 

So switch to biscuits or pancakes instead? Yes, you could because salt is not as important in baked products without yeast, but pancakes and biscuits are usually made with normal baking soda and/or baking powder that contain sodium. Fortunately, no sodium versions are available -- although not in main stream stores. (Try web-based LS/LF sources or local health foood stores.)  Pancakes and biscuits made from these products can be healthy if you avoid additional sodium and saturated fats.

Key, but hard to find, ingredients for low sodium baked goods

No sodium

baking powder

No sodium baking soda

Beware of certain commercial pancake and biscuit mixes. Consumer Reports points out that some commercial pancake mixes have more salt per serving than potato chips!  An example to avoid:

Bisquick Shake And Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Per serving "nutrition":

Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 1g !!!
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 800mg !!!

Note this product is not in our Hall of Shame because the manufacturer is not making any health claims.  Thus their marketing is reasonable even though the product is terrible for LS/LF diets.

Some commercial pancake and biscuit mixes have saturated fats, transfat, and cholesterol in addition to hiigh sodium levels.  Many used to contain transfat but that is generally gone from items sold at retail although may still be in the wholesale version that restaurants buy.  You might wish to think twice about ordering pancakes and biscuits in a restaurant unless you can get some assurances about the ingredients used.

Scandinavian-style crisp flat breads, such as the nationally sold Ryvita and Wasa brands are generally low in sodium and high in fiber, (although they certain aren't as useful for American sandwiches as the soft high sodium Wonder bread).  Matzoh/unleavened bread is also available in a no salt version.

LS/LF Cream Cheese-like Spreads for Toast

If you are looking for a change from unsalted margarine for spreading on your no salt bread, you might want to consider:

• Fresh Made Non Fat Farmer Cheese 

(0 g fat, 10 mg sodium/serving)

• Friendship No Salt Added Farmer Cheese

(2.5 g fat, 10 mg sodium/serving)

• Lifeway Farmer Cheese 

(1 g fat, 10 mg  sodium/serving)

•Tofutti "Better than Cream Cheese"

(5 g fat, 160 mg sodium/serving)

[Unfortunately you are unlikely to find these products in mainstream supermarkets, but it never hurts to ask the store manager if he can get them.  They are more likely to be found in ethnic stores and health food stores.]

You might also want to make a yoghurt spread by placing unsweetened nonfat yoghurt in a strainer with cheesecloth and letting liquid drain out to make it thicker but with the same tangy taste.

Fage brand "ridiculously thick" Total 0% yoghurt

is basically strained yoghurt

(0 mg fat, 85 mg sodium/serving)

[This product is sold in some mainstream supermarkets. Note that nonzero fat versions have similar packaging design so make sure you see "0%" on the package before you buy.]

The conditions that lead to the need for a LS/LF diet often benefit from increased fruit in your diet, something Americans don't get enough of anyway.  You know, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away ...".  So increasing fruit consumption is generally a good idea.

An illustration of market failure: Groceries such as Safeway.com sell gluten free bread but do not have either low salt or no salt bread -- even though the potential number of buyers greatly exceeds the number with celiac disease.

Feel free to contact me with comments and suggestions:



The author of this web site has absolutely no formal education, training, or certification related to its subject matter.  This is only an attempt to share information he has gathered.  Every attempt has been made to reference statements to their original source so you can review them.

Do not make decisions concerning your medical situation based on information herein

Always consult your medical provider on health-related matters including diet.