Ultimately, this increase in blood pressure or hypertension is a leading factor that can lead to strokes, heart failure and heart attacks, many of the leading causes of death and disability. As well, high salt intake has been linked to obesity, stomach cancer, kidney stones and osteoporosis, among other diseases.
Now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new recent report warning that the salt content found in many packaged and processed foods is too high. According to Science Times, the CDC accuses food producers of “knowingly and dangerously” ignoring salt content guidelines, while not informing consumers of these high concentrations. This could be one of the reasons 9 out of 10 kids consume too much salt.
In order to identify the amount of sodium in foods, the authors studied packaged food item sales from 2009 for U.S. grocery stores from 52 markets in three of nine U.S. census divisions, which represents about half the country’s population. Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) healthy food label guidelines, only 480 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving are allowed for individual foods such as cheese and bread, whereas for meals such as pasta and pizza, 600 mg is allowed. Generally, U.S. Dietary Guidelines advise that those in the general population take less than 2,300 mg of salt daily, whereas those with health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes should decrease that intact to 1,500 mg or less.
What the authors found instead, was over 70 percent of pizza and pasta, or meat mixed dishes had more sodium than is considered healthy by the FDA. And of items like cold cuts and soups, 50 to 70 percent exceeded the recommended “healthy” amount of sodium. Interestingly, only 10 percent of breads, cheese and “savory snacks” exceeded healthy guidelines as determined by the FDA.
When one considers, however, that a cup of soup and a sandwich can have as much as 2,200 mg., the importance of careful labeling cannot be overstated. As one of the authors, Linda Schieb, said in a statement, “The majority of our sodium comes from restaurant food and processed food…So it’s important to read the labels and choose lower sodium options.” Schieb also recommends that people eat low-sodium foods, such as fruits and vegetables. UCSF Medical Center also has a comprehensive website outlining specific guidelines for following a low-sodium diet and low-sodium substitutes for high-sodium foods.
(Photo courtesy of Iain Watson)