Taking this Study with a Grain of Salt

Health & Wellness, Heart Health

File:Rock salt, Klodawa Salt Mine, central Poland.jpg

Americans consume sodium in excess by approximately 1,000 mg per day (approximately 3,400 mg versus the recommended amount of 2,300 mg or 1 teaspoon of salt) in men and women younger than age 50 years and more than twice as much sodium than recommended (1,500 mg) for older men and women. Yet, despite promotional efforts by government agencies and the media to get this information out into the public domain, the progress made toward reducing the purchase of sodium-enriched products has not been well established. The new study examines the national trend in sodium reduction in U.S. households over a 15-year period by focusing on package foods and beverages, two of the richest sources of sodium consumed by Americans.

A recent study found average reductions in sodium of 12% from packaged goods purchased between 2000 and 2014. On the surface, this may seem like a significant improvement over the study period. However, the analysis did not include foods that did not contain a barcode, such as the popular, “grab-a-ticket” deli counters where lunchmeats are commonly seething with sodium. For example, one slice of deli ham often contains 300-400 mg of sodium. Because approximately one-half to one-third of daily sodium intake may be obtained from deli meats and popular store-prepared foods (also not assessed for sodium content), not having this information puts somewhat of a damper on an otherwise informative and interesting study.

This blog was originally posted on Healio (June 7, 2017).

Dr. Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of “Heal Your Heart” with 100% of proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.

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