Way Too Much Sodium Consumed

Sodium consumed already in food obtained at grocery store

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) About 90 percent of U.S. adults are incorporating too much sodium into their diets. However it doesn't appear the dinner-side salt shaker is at fault.

A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that about 65 percent of sodium consumed was already in food purchased at the grocery store, not added at the dinner table.

Consuming excess sodium contributes to hypertension, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

"Keep your sodium consumption under 1,500 milligrams daily."

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, said that while sodium consumption is high, many food manufacturers already are taking steps to lower sodium in packaged foods, and he anticipates additional companies will follow suit.

The study revealed that the biggest offenders totaling 46 percent of consumed sodium came from 10 specific categories with bread and rolls, and cold cuts and cured meats topping the list.

During the study researchers estimated the sodium consumption from specific food categories among 7,227 individuals over the age of 2 years old through interviews and the recall of food intake over two 24-hour periods. The What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, was conducted between 2007 and 2008.

Investigators found that mean daily sodium consumption was 3,266 milligrams excluding salt added to food at the table. American Heart Association guidelines recommend that most individuals should ensure their daily sodium consumption remains under 1,500 milligrams a day.

In addition to breads and meats, other categories that helped make up nearly half of an individual's daily sodium intake included pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, mixed pasta dishes, meat mixed dishes, and savory snacks.

About 80 percent of participants consumed bread, the category that contributed the most to high sodium intake, during both 24-hour periods where they were asked to recall foods they had consumed.

Among the various food categories sodium consumption was generally higher when the food was purchased from fast food restaurants, with about 25 percent of sodium intake consumed at restaurants.

Investigators noted that cutting sodium content of the 10 leading sources by 25 percent could lower total salt intake by about 10 percent and help prevent about 28,000 heart-related deaths a year.

CDC officials suggest salt consumption can be reduced by eating more fruits and vegetables, reading food labels to weed out high sodium foods, and choosing low sodium options when possible.

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Review Date: 
February 9, 2012
Last Updated:
February 9, 2012