Think You’ve Got Salt Take Under Control? Maybe Not!

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Five high-sodium foods — not all of them salty tasting — are a big reason why about 90% of Americans get way too much sodium every day, according to an article on WebMD Health News and a recent report from The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”).

The average American gets more than twice the recommended daily dose of sodium: 3,466 milligrams of sodium per day. This means we’re at risk of dangerously raising our blood pressure, which increases risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The CDC calculates that if everyone followed sodium-intake guidelines there would be as many as 120,000 fewer cases of heart disease and up to 66,000 fewer strokes each year.

More bad news: while basic U.S. dietary guidelines suggest that adults get less than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day, the basic guidelines apply to less than a third of Americans; the rest — 70% of the population — are middle aged, elderly, or African-American. This huge majority should get less than 1,500 milligrams of salt per day.

Surprisingly, an estimated 77% comes from sodium in processed and restaurant foods; only a small portion results from cooking or adding salt at the table. According to WebMD, the CDC report identifies five foods that give Americans most of their salt:

  • Yeast breads
  • Chicken and mixed chicken dinners
  • Pizza
  • Pasta dishes
  • Cold cuts

The three processed food groups from which we get the most sodium include some additional surprises:

  • Grains-based frozen meals, including pizza, bread and soups contribute 37% of our daily sodium.
  • Processed meats, including lunch meats (even poultry) and sausages, contribute 28% of our daily sodium.
  • Processed vegetables contribute more than 12% of our daily sodium. This seems surprising, but this report counts potato chips and French fries as vegetables, and as you may know, canned vegetables, vegetable soups, and vegetable sauces tend to be loaded with salt.

Earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine recommended mandatory national standards for the sodium content of foods, along with voluntary action by the food industry as an interim step.  In the meantime, here are four WebMD recommendations you can use to combat the sodium problem:

  • Eat less processed food.
  • Eat more fresh and frozen vegetables.
  • Compare labels to choose low-sodium foods (beware of deceptive labeling).
  • If you must use canned vegetables or beans, rinse the food well with water to remove as much salt as possible.

You can read the CDC report appears in the June 25 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_wk.html  and for more information on the impact of salt in our diets, visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsSodium/   

Read the full WebMD article here.

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Date: Tuesday, 29. June 2010 14:28
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