CDC leads assault on salt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention utilized its February Vital Signs report, released Feb. 7, to emphasize the need for Americans to cut back on sodium intake. The report raises awareness on excess consumption of sodium, most of which comes from common restaurant or pre-packaged foods.

CDC pointed out that 10 types of foods are responsible for more than 40 percent of people’s sodium intake. The most common sources are breads and rolls; luncheon meat such as deli ham or turkey; pizza; poultry; soups; cheeseburgers and other sandwiches; cheese; pasta dishes; meat dishes such as meat loaf; and snack foods such as potato chips, pretzels and popcorn. 

Some foods that are consumed several times a day, such as bread, add up to a lot of sodium even though each serving is not high in sodium, the report noted.

“Too much sodium raises blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “These diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans each year and contribute an estimated $273 billion in healthcare costs.”

The average person consumes about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, not including any salt added at the table, CDC said, which is more than twice the recommended limit for about half of Americans and 6 of every 10 adults.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.  The recommendation is 1,500 milligrams per day for people aged 51 and older, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, and African Americans.

The report noted that reducing the sodium content of the 10 leading sodium sources by 25 percent would lower total dietary sodium by more than 10 percent and could play a role in preventing up to an estimated 28,000 deaths per year.

CDC recommends that people lower their sodium intake by eating a diet rich in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce, while limiting the amount of processed foods with added sodium.  Individuals should also check grocery food labels and choose the products lowest in sodium. 

CDC also urges food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the amount of sodium added to foods.

“We’re encouraged that some food manufacturers are already taking steps to reduce sodium,” said Frieden. “Kraft Foods has committed to an average 10 percent reduction of sodium in their products over a two-year period, and dozens of companies have joined a national initiative to reduce sodium.  The leading supplier of cheese for pizza, Leprino Foods, is actively working on providing customers and consumers with healthier options.  We are confident that more manufacturers will do the same.”

Patients can learn more about ways to reduce sodium by clicking here.

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