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CDC: Too Much Sodium in Most U.S. Diets

Nine in 10 U.S. adults consume much more sodium than they should, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke, according  to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s newest “Vital Signs” report.

Most of the sodium comes from 10 types of foods, which are responsible for more than 40 percent of people’s sodium intake. Those are:

– breads and rolls

– luncheon meat such as deli ham or turkey

– pizza

– poultry

– soups

– cheeseburgers and other sandwiches

– cheese

– pasta dishes

– meat dishes such as meat loaf

– snack foods such as potato chips, pretzels and popcorn

Bread, if consumed several times a day, can add up to a lot of sodium even though each serving is not high in sodium, the CDC report notes.

According to the CDC, 65 percent of sodium comes from food sold in stores, while 25 percent of sodium comes from meals purchased in restaurants.

“Too much sodium raises blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” said CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden in announcing the new report. “These diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans each year and contribute an estimated $273 billion in health care costs.”

The report notes that even before adding salt to season food at the table, the average person consumes about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is more than twice the recommended limit for about half of Americans and 6 of every 10 adults.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.  The recommendation is 1,500 milligrams per day for people aged 51 and older, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, and African Americans.

The CDC says that reducing the sodium content of the 10 leading sodium sources by 25 percent would lower total dietary sodium by more than 10 percent and could play a role in preventing up to about 28,000 deaths per year.

Because sodium is prevalent in so many foods, especially processed foods with added sodium, the CDC recognizes that reducing daily sodium consumption is a challenge. The public health agency recommends eating a diet rich in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce, and checking labels to choose products lowest in sodium.

The agency endorses recommendations for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the amount of sodium added to foods.

“We’re encouraged that some food manufacturers are already taking steps to reduce sodium,” said Dr. Frieden, singling out Kraft Foods for committing to an average 10 percent reduction of sodium in its products over a two year period, and dozens of companies have joined a national initiative to reduce sodium.

He also said Leprino Foods, the leading supplier of cheese for pizza, is working on providing customers and consumers with healthier options, adding “we are confident that more manufacturers will do the same.”

To learn more about ways to reduce sodium, visit www.cdc.gov/salt.

For more information on heart disease and stroke, visit http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.

Reducing sodium is also a key component of the Million Hearts™ initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.  To learn how to reduce sodium using the DASH eating plan, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/.

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