New Dietary Guidelines for Sodium

The New Dietary Guidelines are out. While there were a few changes I think the most important one to touch on is the decrease in recommended sodium intake. The average American consumes ~3,400 mg of sodium per day which is more than double the amount recommended by the new dietary guidelines. It’s time to try harder and pay more attention to nutrition labels because the new guidelines for healthy adults ages 9 to 50 years old are for 1,500mg or less of sodium per day. Healthy adults 51 to 70 have the harder task of 1,300 mg or less of Sodium per day. Currently, only 15% of Americans consume 2,300mg of sodium or less per day.

Here’s the scoop on salt.

Sodium is an essential nutrient for our body but it is needed in relatively small quantities. Consuming excess salt can lead to high blood pressure which can cause cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and kidney issues. According to the new dietary guidelines there is evidence that lowering sodium intake will in turn lower blood pressure.
Salt is used in many methods of food processing including curing meat, baking, retaining moisture and enhancing flavors. Adding salt to your food at the table and during cooking is only a small part of the total sodium that we consume. Most of the sodium that is consumed is from processed foods. The Institute of Medicine set Adequate Intake levels for sodium intake for Americans based on age.

Adequate Intake (AI) Levels for sodium by age

AI for healthy adults 9 to 50 years = 1,500 mg per day.
AI for adults ages 51 to 70 years= 1,300 mg/ day
AI for older adults ages 71 years and older= 1,200 mg/day
AI for Children ages 4 to 8 years= 1,200 mg/day
AI for Children ages 1 to 3 years =1,000 mg/day
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults 14 years and older is 2,300 mg per day. The UL is the highest daily nutrient intake level that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. Americans should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg or 1,500 mg per day (of course this depend­s on age and other individual characteristics).

Common Sources of Sodium in American Diets

(Based on Frequency of Consumption and Sodium Content)
Yeast Bread (lower amounts of sodium but frequently consumed) = 7% of the sodium in the U.S. diet
Pizza = 6.3% of the sodium in the U.S. diet
Chicken & Chicken Mixed Dishes = 7% of the sodium in the U.S. diet
Pasta = 5.1% of the sodium in the U.S. diet
Cold Cuts = 4.5 % of the sodium in the U.S. diet
Condiments = 4.1% of the sodium in the U.S. diet

Tips to help decrease sodium consumption

  • Consume more fresh foods
  • Cut back on processed foods. The less processed foods we eat the better off we are
  • Always look at the Nutrition Facts label for information on the sodium content of foods. You may be able to make small cut backs in your sodium intake by switching brands of a food you commonly eat.
  • Cook and prepare foods at home that way you can determine what’s added. Most of the time the amount of salt can be cut back in recipes (with the exception of baking).
  • When purchasing processed foods look for “Low Sodium” or “No Added Salt” varieties.
  • When eating out ask that salt not be added to your food or look for lower sodium options

Check out my clip on Twin Cities Live to see how much sodium are in some common meals.

I am also going to post a website I found that gives low sodium food products by category. I found it very interesting and helpful to see the lower sodium options for processed foods. Low Sodium Food Directory

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