February 16, 2011
Food Talk: The Latest Shakedown on Sodium

In an effort to reduce hypertension and the number of strokes, there is a revitalized crusade to cut back on sodium.

Americans eat more sodium than they need. We eat an average of 3400 milligrams of sodium per day, which is the equivalent of about one and one half teaspoons of salt.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which has input into the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is calling for slashing the current recommendation from 2300 milligrams of sodium to 1500 milligrams daily.

This will be a challenge that we cannot tackle individually.

The problem of excessive sodium intake can- not be solved by simply removing the salt shaker from the stovetop or the table. Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply. It is estimated that 77% of dietary sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant meals. Voluntary efforts to reduce sodium in the food supply have previously failed. Driven by recent research, policy makers are pushing for broad new restrictions on the amount of sodium in restaurant and packaged foods.

So, in the meantime, choose foods that are already low in sodium such as fresh, frozen and canned fruits along with fresh vegetables and frozen ones without sauces. Fresh meat, fresh poultry, and fresh fish are also low in sodium along with their freshly frozen counterparts which have not been marinated or injected with preservatives or salty seasonings. Select herbs and spices to enhance taste, but avoid salty seasoning mixes. Read labels to investigate the sodium content of favorite foods and therefore make smarter choices. Do not wait to wage your own war on sodium!

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