TUESDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Americans still eat way too
much salt, and much of it comes from dietary staples such as bread,
poultry, cheese and pasta, U.S. health officials reported
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said 90
percent of Americans consume too much salt on a daily basis.
Ten types of foods account for 44 percent of salt consumption,
the CDC researchers said. These include bread and rolls; deli meats
and cured meats; pizza; fresh and processed poultry; soups;
cheeseburgers and other sandwiches; cheese; pasta dishes such as
spaghetti with meat sauce; meat dishes such as meat loaf with
tomato sauce; and salty snacks, such as pretzels, chips and
Too much salt, the major source of dietary sodium, can raise
blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease and stroke.
"Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death in the United States and are largely dependent on the high rate of high blood pressure, and one of the things that's driving our blood pressure up is that most adults in this country eat or drink about twice the amount of sodium recommended," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said during a noon press conference Tuesday.
"Reducing sodium across the food supply can increase consumer choice, is feasible, it can save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs each year," Frieden added.
According to the report, reducing sodium by 25 percent in those
10 food types could help prevent 28,000 deaths each year and save
$7 billion in health care costs. Overall salt intake would decline
by 10 percent.
Because some of these foods, such as bread, are eaten several
times a day, salt consumption adds up, even though an individual
serving is not high in sodium.
"Cooking fresh food at home is the best way to lower sodium," said Samantha Heller, a dietitian and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.
For their estimates, CDC researchers relied on data from a
2007-2008 nutrition study of more than 7,000 Americans aged 2 years
The investigators found that 65 percent of daily sodium comes
from food bought in stores, and 25 percent from restaurant
Excluding salt added at the table, the average American consumes
about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day -- significantly more than
the 2,300 milligrams recommended by the U.S. Dietary
For people over 51 years of age, black Americans, and those with
high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, the
recommendation is just 1,500 milligrams a day.
Manufacturers of processed foods and restaurants need to reduce
salt content in their foods, the report stated.
The best way to reduce your salt intake, the researchers said,
is to eat more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce
and limit processed foods.
Heller suggested buying low-sodium foods, such as no-sodium
canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, and using less cheese, "which can
be surprisingly high in sodium."
It's important to learn which foods are high in sodium and
figure them into your day, and to check food labels when shopping,
Heller said. Also, limit cold cuts and processed meats.
The report, titled
Vital Signs: Food Categories Contributing the Most to Sodium
Consumption--United States, 2007-2008, is published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Feb. 7 early release edition.
For tips on reducing salt in your diet, visit the
U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood