Americans Being Advised To Cut Down On Salt
The United States Government is urging almost half of all Americans to cut back on their daily salt intake.
The advice comes as a new nutritional guideline is to be issued, recommendations which stand behind the popular food pyramid. It’s the first time the Agriculture, Health and Human services departments, that are responsible for new guidelines every five years, are telling Americans over the age of 51, African-Americans and also, anyone suffering from diabetes or chronic kidney diseases, to consume no more that half a teaspoon of sodium a day.
In this category, which is about half of the entire population, we also find people with high blood pressure, making it worse by a high daily intake of salt. The rest of population, however, is also being advised to not exceed one teaspoon of salt a day, which equals around 2400 milligrams. It is about one-third less than what an average person would consume in a day. The government is primarily targeting the food industry which is responsible for 90 percent of the salt people consume. The average person’s daily intake of sodium comes primarily from salt hidden in foods such as bread, pasta and chicken.
Links between high sodium intake and risk of high blood pressure, have been known for a long time. There are also links between consumption of large amounts of salt and strokes. Cutting back on salt will not be an easy task, however.
The Institute of Medicine states that while being realistic in understanding the time it will take for people to get used to the new, lower-salt tasting diet, people most at risk (the elderly, diabetes sufferers and people with already high blood pressure) need to be made aware of the risks.
Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, said that Americans need to get to grips and control the obesity epidemic, otherwise the costs of healthcare will rocket skywards in time.
There are a number of large food companies that are pledging to make changes in their approach to food production, reducing salt content and finding sodium alternatives but the Drug Administration said it will move to convince companies to willfully reduce salt before it would introduce regulation.
Assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, Dr. Howard Koh, said that companies would have to start making cuts for the reductions to work. He went on to say that, irrespective of the general consumer’s will to change, the biggest part of the action must be taken by the food companies, the ones responsible for the greatest part of the salt intake.
In helping themselves, consumers are being asked to read nutrition labels, use little or no salt when cooking or eating, cook more and eat less processed foods that don’t always make it very clear what they contain, when eating at restaurants ask that salt is not added and reduce salt intake gradually, therefore getting used to the taste.
The rest of the guidelines are similar to the previous ones. For example, consumers are advised to lower fat intake, sugar, calorie and cholesterol intake. Also, it is advised that people only extract 10 percent of their daily caloric dose from saturated fat such as full-fat cheese, creams and chocolates.
The government’s advice takes the form of a nutritional pyramid, introduced over five years ago. It replaced an older, less popular pyramid.11