Although a new report on salt intake by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that Americans are consuming less sodium today than they did about 10 years ago, we’re still eating far too much salt on an average day, according to the researchers behind the report. As of 2010, the average person ate about 3,424 mg of sodium each day, a figure reduced from 3,518 mg of sodium daily in 2003. Infants were not included in the study, though people of all other ages were.
The decline may be partly due to the fact that popular food brands increasingly offer low-sodium options. For example, Progresso Soup, Bush’s Beans and V8 often have low-sodium versions placed directly adjacent to their typical products in supermarkets. This is important, as processed foods such as canned products and lunch meat contain a notoriously high amount of sodium.
Most People Still Consume Too Much Sodium
Unfortunately, the minor declines in sodium consumption aren’t enough. As of 2010, about 8 of 10 children between the ages of 1 and 3, as well as 9 out of 10 people above the age of 3, consumed more than their daily allowance of sodium on the average day.
Current dietary guidelines suggest that people consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. However, about 60% adults, including those above the age of 50, those with kidney diseases, diabetes or hypertension, and African Americans, should actually consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day.
Less Sodium, Or Fewer Calories?
According to researchers, the amount of salt consumed per calorie consumed was actually the same at either end of the study period. In other words, people aren’t actually consuming foods with less sodium or salting their food to a lesser extent. Rather, they’re just consuming slightly fewer calories per day overall. This fact shouldn’t devalue the finding that sodium consumption is down, since a reduction in daily caloric intake is a boon to the average American’s health as well.
In fact, the CDC researchers behind the report said that one of the best ways for public health officials to continue the trend of reduced sodium intake is to further efforts designed to reduce obesity, since those who consume too many calories per day also tend to exceed daily sodium limits to the greatest extent. The researchers said that restaurants and manufacturers of processed and packaged foods should also make efforts to reduce the sodium content of their products.
According to the researchers, eating too much sodium each day can increase your risk of hypertension or high blood pressure, subsequently increasing your risk of having a heart attack. They said that if everyone started consuming 400 fewer milligrams of sodium per day, billions of dollars would be saved on health care annually.
The Bottom Line
Although sodium intake is declining slightly among Americans, the average diet still contains far too much salt, according to a new report from the CDC.