Consuming too much sodium in our diets can increase our risk of high blood pressure, leading to more incidences of heart disease and stroke. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently preparing “voluntary guidelines” asking food companies and restaurants to cut back on the amount of salt they add to their food.
"We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told the Associated Press. "I think one of the things we are very mindful of is that we need to have a realistic timeline.”
According to the American Heart Association, the average American eats over 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, which is more than double the AHA’s daily recommendation of 1,500 milligrams. An estimated 65 percent of the sodium we eat comes from food bought at the grocery store, 25 percent comes from restaurants, and 10 percent from home cooking. Over 75 percent of our daily sodium intake is coming from processed foods.
The FDA’s “long-awaited federal effort” has been looming over the food industry ever since the Institute of Medicine issued a report in 2010 revealing that companies were doing little to reduce the amount of salt in their food. Hamburg mentioned that salt can be difficult to remove from certain products, considering some companies use sodium not only for taste, but also to increase shelf life, prevent bacteria growth, and improve texture.
FDA guidelines will encourage gradual change to give companies enough time to develop lower-sodium products and allow consumers to get used to less sodium in the food they eat. Although the guidelines are voluntary, they will be considered a “stern warning” for companies and restaurants looking to stay in tune with the federal regulatory agency. "As the clock ticks, America's blood pressure, along with health costs due to chronic disease, continues to rise," said chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the FDA, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Top Six Salty Foods:
1. Breads & Rolls – A single slice of white bread can contain anywhere between 80 to 230 milligrams of sodium.
2. Cold Cuts & Cured Meats – Six thin slices of deli meat can contain half of the daily recommended amount of sodium.
3. Pizza – A slice of pizza with topping can also contain half of the daily recommended amount of sodium.
4. Poultry – Based on preparation methods, poultry can be packed with high sodium levels.
5. Soup – A cup of canned soup can contain anywhere between 100 and 940 milligrams of sodium.
6. Sandwiches – The average sandwich or burger from any fast food restaurant can take up 100 percent of our daily recommended sodium intake.