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Salt A Whole Lotta Shakin Going On

The American Medical Association once again is sounding the alarm about salt.
Today’s Journal of the American Medical Association carries an impassioned commentary from A.M.A. officials declaring an “urgent need” to reduce sodium in our diets. Don’t worry — the group doesn’t want to take away your salt shaker. Instead, the association is calling for the Food and Drug Administration and industry to get serious about lowering the sodium content of our food, and the group is urging consumers to shop more often for lower-sodium alternatives.
(Credit: The New York Times)
Sodium has long been associated with an increased risk for high blood pressure. Notably, the World Health Organization earlier this year said the evidence linking sodium to hypertension is “conclusive.” Cutting American’s sodium intake in half, notes today’s commentary, could reduce deaths from heart disease and stroke by 23 percent. By some estimates, that could prevent 150,000 deaths every year.
Yet the Salt Institute, an industry trade group, disagrees, saying there’s no evidence to support a campaign against sodium. In fact, some people are more sensitive to the deleterious effects of sodium than others. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to figure out if you’re one of them.
The average American takes in 4,000 milligrams of sodium daily. That’s a lot more than you need. According to the F.D.A., most people can safely ingest up to 2,400 milligrams a day — which is about one teaspoon of salt. Sodium is essential to our bodies, but we don’t need much. The adequate intake for healthy body function in people younger than 50 is only 1,500 milligrams. People over age 50 need only 1,200 to 1,300 milligrams.
Any food that contains more than 480 milligrams of sodium per serving should be considered a high-sodium food, says the A.M.A. By that measure, the amount of sodium in some popular foods is shocking. One turkey panini from the Panera Bread chain contains 2,390 milligrams of sodium. Even the sweet stuff can be loaded. A Starbucks cinnamon roll contains 700 milligrams of sodium, while a large white hot chocolate at Dunkin’ Donuts holds 600 milligrams.
The fastest and easiest way to reduce sodium is to cut out processed foods and restaurant visits. Fresh vegetables and meats have far less sodium than frozen and canned foods. Only 6 percent of the sodium we ingest comes from the salt shaker at the table, while another 5 percent is added by the home cook. Most of the salt we consume — 77 percent — comes from processed and restaurant foods, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The remaining 12 percent occurs naturally in food.
For a table listing the sodium content in packaged and processed foods, click here.

1 komentarz:

Dick Hanneman pisze...

The argument that not all persons would benefit from a salt-reduced diet by lowering blood pressure has been overtaken by medical scholarship. It turns out that there are multiple impacts of reducing dietary sodium, not only a blood pressure impact. Insulin resistance is increased and the body senses inadequate sodium and compensates by producing hormones like renin, angiotensin and aldosterone -- all of which have adverse health consequences.

We should all be concerned about elevated blood pressure and we know that blood pressure in many people responds to manipulating intakes of sodium (and sodium chloride). But that is treating the symptom, not the cause.

We need to look at studies of the health outcomes of salt-reduced diets. We have; see the results posted on our website at http://www.saltinstitute.org/28.html. There is no body of evidence showing that lowering dietary sodium will improve outcomes. It may well be just the opposite.

Dick Hanneman
President, Salt Institute