Wednesday, February 8, 2012


More Salt In US Diet Comes From Bread And Rolls, Not Salty Snacks

Featured Article
Main Category: Nutrition / Diet
Also Included In: Public Health;  Hypertension
Article Date: 08 Feb 2012 - 3:00 PST

More salt in the average US diet comes bread and rolls and not from salty snacks like potato chips, pretzels and popcorn, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this week. Although salty snacks taste saltier, and weight for weight they contain more sodium than bread and rolls, because the average American consumes more bread and rolls every day than salty snacks, bread consumption contributes more to sodium intake.

Contained in the February edition of CDC Vital Signs, the report is timed to coincide with American Heart Month.

Too much sodium in the diet increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Experts say most of the salt in the diet of Americans does not come from that which they add when they prepare food at home or at the table: it comes from processed and restaurant foods.

The CDC report shows that average sodium consumption in the US is about 3,300 milligrams a day.

This suggests that only 1 in 10 Americans meets the dietary guideline of no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, which is about the same as in a teaspoon of salt. There is an even lower guideline amount of 1,500 milligrams per day for African Americans, anyone aged 51 and over, and for people with certain conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease.

The report includes a list of the top 10 sources of sodium in the average American diet. Number 1 on the list is bread and rolls: number 10 is salty snacks like potato chips, pretzels and popcorn.

The remaining types are cold cuts and cured meats such as deli or packaged ham or turkey, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, sandwiches (including cheeseburgers), cheese, pasta dishes (excluding macaroni and cheese which is in a separate category of its own), and meat mixed dishes such as meat loaf with tomato sauce.

The report highlights that:
  • These ten types of food account for 44% of dietary sodium consumed each day in the US.
  • 65% of sodium in the American diet comes from food bought in stores.
  • 25% comes from meals purchased in restaurants.
  • Cutting the sodium in the 10 leading sources by 25% would lower the total consumed by more than 10% and could help prevent 28,000 deaths a year.
CDC Director Dr Thomas R. Frieden told the press:

"Too much sodium raises blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. These diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans each year and contribute an estimated $273 billion in health care costs."

Reducing daily consumption of sodium is not easy when it is present in so many of the foods we eat.

But people can lower their intake by eating a diet high in fresh or frozen fruits and vegatables without sauce, and by limiting the amount of processed foods without sodium, checking grocery labels and choosing products lower in sodium.

Frieden said the CDC were encouraged that some food companies are taking steps to reduce sodium in their products. He cited the example of Kraft Foods, who have committed to an average reduction of 10% over a two-year period. Dozens of other companies have also joined a national campaign to reduce sodium in foods.

"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," said Frieden.

Data for the report came from surveys of more than 7,200 people carried out in 2007 and 2008. Nearly half of those surveyed were children.