Yesterday the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) set forth new guidelines to reduce the amount of salt the food industry puts in the foods we eat. It has long been known in the medical community that high salt intake increases a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States among most ethnicities. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the period of 2011-2014 blacks accounted for the majority of hypertension cases. Similarly, according to the CDC, strokes are nearly twice as likely to occur in blacks and blacks are more likely to die from a stroke compared to other races.
In a statement from the FDA, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell stated the following: “Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants. Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.”
What Is Recommended?
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 2,300 mg per day of salt intake. Americans’ average salt intake is about 3,400 mg a day, which is nearly 50 percent above what is recommended. Studies estimate that lowering salt intake by 40 percent over the next 10 years could have a profound effect. The potential positive effects of reducing salt intake are:
- May save 500,000 lives.
- Eliminate about 1.5 million cases of uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Save billions of dollars in health care costs.
- Within the next two years to reduce the daily salt intake to 3,000 mg
- Within ten years to reduce the daily salt intake to 2,300 mg.
The majority of salt we consume is found in processed foods and prepared foods (i.e. restaurants and packaged foods). Currently, we have no control in how much salt is added to the many foods we eat. The guidelines set worth by the FDA is a big win for consumers in the fight against high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. We as consumers will have more control of our health. Also keep in mind that less salt does not mean less taste. Use various spices to add flavor to your meals. Read Wellness Wednesday: Spice It Up on how to flavor your meals. Lastly, dining out and eating packaged foods is a fast and easy option, but for more control of your health, limit your intake of prepared and processed foods. Pre-plan your meals and opt for whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, legumes and grains.
Click here to read more from the FDA on how to reduce the salt from your diet.