Why Campbell’s low-sodium soups now increase your risk for a heart attack

October 11, 2011
Volume 08    |   Issue 42

In February 2010, the Campbell Soup Company took positive steps to protect your heart against heart attacks and other types of heart disease. Their website and ads boldly proclaimed that its low-sodium products were “heart healthy.” And they were.

The company was paying attention to medical studies. Those studies linked a high sodium intake with high blood pressure and other aspects of heart disease. At the time, Campbell’s processed foods contained an astronomical amount of salt per serving. So they decided to reduce the sodium content in 23 of its Select Harvest canned soups by as much as 45%. And they pledged to do the same for its simple meals, baked snacks, and beverages.

Originally, most of Campbell’s soups contained over 800 mg of sodium per serving. Then they dropped it to 480 mg (some went as low as 410 mg) – a considerable reduction. When they made this move, I applauded the company.

But beware: Now there’s news that these products won’t be good for your heart any more.

Two weeks ago, Campbell’s made another announcement. They were putting some of the salt back in because sales were down. COO Denise Morrison couldn’t have been clearer in stating Campbell’s priorities. She believed that adding back more salt “will set the stage for a new chapter of profitable net sales growth and sustainable growth in total shareholder returns.”

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In their own words, they’re now increasing sodium to 650 mg/serving – just to increase sales.

Adding more sodium to their products is exactly the wrong move. And I’m not happy about it. A lot of people eat Campbell’s products. These products contain so much salt they can severely damage your heart if you eat too much of them. This is especially true if you have hypertension or other types of heart disease, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. And there’s no warning on the label. What can you do?

The change hasn’t taken full effect as of yet. You can still buy the lower sodium soups at your grocery store. But don’t expect Campbell’s to trumpet the higher sodium content on their labels. They will change without any notice at all. So take this opportunity to find a better alternative, especially if you have any risk of heart problems.

There are some canned soups on the market that are low in sodium and taste delicious. My favorite brand is Amy’s. Their “Light in Sodium” line contains from 300-400 mg/serving — less than Campbell’s low-sodium products. The folks at Amy’s know that many people who eat prepared frozen and canned foods need to be on special diets and often don’t have the energy to make them. Like Campbell’s, they have many that are gluten-free as well. But they have the added benefit of being truly “low sodium.” Amy’s knows that health can be the bottom line, not just profit.

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