Eighty Percent

Did you know that nearly 80 percent of the salt the average American eats every day comes from restaurant meals, take-out food and packaged products instead of home cooked meals? It’s true, according to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What’s more shocking is that the levels of sodium most people consume on a daily basis is way, way above the recommended levels, and that’s excluding the amounts they add at the dinner table.

The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for sodium (the same dietary recommendations I talked about last week that are set to change in 2015), for the general population should be kept under 2,300 milligrams or about a teaspoon a day. For those with health conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, it is recommended daily salt intake be kept at no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. That can be tricky, especially when people tend to eat out more than in years past and typical restaurant fare is heavy on sodium. Case in point, a cup of soup and turkey sandwich in a restaurant can be more than 2,200 milligrams of salt according to the CDC…and that’s just one meal!

Grocery store packaged food is also pretty bad too with the worst offenders containing meat and/or pasta, which in 80 percent of instances, were far beyond the federal sodium guidelines. Pizzas were also found to contain too much salt in 70 percent of the cases, while over half of all cold cuts and soups were also loaded with unhealthy amounts of salt. It is not too surprising that packaged foods contain high levels of sodium due to the use of preservatives used in them.

While these findings are not entirely shocking, it is eye opening and good news, in my opinion. Anytime information can serve a purpose to help the public’s health, it is good in my book. I think sodium is often overlooked and goes unnoticed, since many people don’t feel overly concerned about it and don’t realize the profound impact that a sodium heavy diet can play in one’s overall health.

Interested in this topic? Read more about this published study in the April issue of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.