Health In Focus
  • A typical American diet is notoriously high in sodium
  • Statistics show that more than 90 percent of children and 89 percent of adults aged 19 and older consume too much sodium
  • Evidence shows high sodium intake could undermine good health for both adults and kids
Sodium is vital for our survival, but a diet high in sodium could affect your heart, brain and bone health!!!
Sodium Leads to High Blood Pressure - New Guidelines by FDA
Sodium Leads to High Blood Pressure - New Guidelines by FDA

Salt is Essential for Our Health
  • Table salt is nothing but sodium chloride and about one teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2300mg of sodium.
  • Sodium is an essential mineral which along with potassium not only regulates your blood pressure but also helps in nerve transmissions and muscle contractions. But too much of a good thing could actually be bad, in fact, deadly at times!
Proposed Guidelines by FDA
  • New research reveals that all Americans, regardless of their age or gender, consume more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. Statistics shows that nine out of ten US adults are consuming too much sodium.
  • This has prompted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release a draft voluntary guidelines encouraging companies to decrease the sodium content in processed and restaurant foods by the calendar year 2020.
  • It is believed that more than three-quarters of sodium in a standard American diet comes from restaurants and processed foods, thus leaving little choice for consumers to lower their daily sodium intake.
  • The proposed FDA guideline sets short-term and long-term goals for a gradual reduction in sodium for both restaurants as well as manufactured products. They hope this would lead to a sustained reduction in the amount of sodium added to the food supply before the food actually reaches the consumers and in the long run save thousands of lives.
Why Worry about Sodium Intake?
  • There is plenty of evidence which links excess sodium intake to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and host of other health problems. Studies have also demonstrated a link between excess salt intake and stomach cancer, kidney disease, water retention, osteoporosis, obesity, amongst others.
Thomas R. Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) commented in JAMA Viewpoint, "There is strong evidence, including a recent analysis of more than 100 randomized clinical trials, that sodium reduction reduces blood pressure in adults. Excess dietary sodium intake may adversely affect the heart, kidneys, brain and blood vessels."

Dr. Frieden feels that problems with excess sodium in America need to be addressed promptly for the reasons cited below:
  • As high as 70 percent of sodium consumed is in food products before they reach the table.
  • Lowering sodium intake by 1,200 mg per day could possibly lead to a reduction of the number of people suffering from hypertension by nearly 11 million.
  • Minimizing sodium consumption by just 400 mg per day could go a long way in preventing nearly 32,000 myocardial infarctions (heart attack) and 20,000 strokes annually.
The FDA Guidelines

In addition to the written proposed guidelines, the CDC has also issued a list of 150 food categories in which sodium content should be reduced Health. The main idea is that even small amount of decrease in sodium levels could improve one's health significantly.

For example, under the category:
  • "Bacon bits and pieces" the 2010 baseline weighted mean was 2,534 mg of sodium per 100 g. By 2020, the CDC is requesting restaurants and manufacturers to reduce sodium content to 1,000 mg per 100 g. This would lead to decrease of sodium content by 60.5 %.
  • "Canned vegetables" the 2010 baseline weighted mean was 307 mg of sodium per 100 g. The CDC is requesting it to be reduced to 250 mg of sodium per 100 g by 2020, leading to a decrease of 18.5 percent.
AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD stated, "We applaud the FDA for proposing new sodium reduction targets and industry guidelines that will help Americans limit the amount of sodium they consume and, in turn, make our country healthier. These voluntary guidelines are a blueprint for further action, but the onus is on the food industry to now take the necessary steps to reduce sodium in its products, and help us improve health outcomes for all Americans."
  • FDA's guidelines also support the AMA's initiative to reduce the number of Americans living with uncontrolled high blood pressure, known as "Improving Health Outcomes."
  • Another initiative by AMA together with Johns Hopkins known as "M.A.P. to Improve Blood Pressure Control" calls for health care professionals to Measure blood pressure accurately, Act rapidly to treat patients' uncontrolled blood pressure and Partner with patients, families and communities to promote self-management.
Some foods to limit to cut down on sodium
  • Be aware that prepackaged, processed foods tend to be high in sodium content
  • Cheeses, buttermilk, salted snacks, nuts
  • Frozen packaged dinners
  • Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, soy sauce
  • Pickles and olives
Reference :
  1. What FDA's new sodium guidelines could look like in practice?
Source: Medindia

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