Friday, June 19, 2015

Are Low-Salt Foods Available In Grocery Stores?

Salt, or more precisely sodium, is required by human body to help nerves and muscles function correctly. It also plays an important part in fluid balance (regulation of water content).

However, consuming too much salt can raise the risk of hypertension as well as cardiovascular (heart disease and stroke). In 2006, a study from the University of Helsinki even linked sodium intake to obesity.

One third of American adults have hypertension, and at least a quarter of those cases are affected by sodium intake. More than two-thirds of American adults and nearly one-third of children and youth are overweight or obese.

A recent study by CDC (the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) indicated that it is difficult to find low-sodium food in grocery stores. The new findings, which were published in the journal ‘Preventing Chronic Disease’, could explain why more than 90 percent of American adults consume more than the recommended daily amount of sodium.

Fewer than half of packaged grocery-store products in most food categories were found to meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for being labeled as a healthy food, according to the researchers from CDC.

More than 70 percent of pizzas, pasta mixed dishes, and meat mixed dishes, and 50 percent to 70 percent of cold cuts, soups, and sandwiches exceeded FDA’s healthy labeling standards for sodium, whereas less than 10 percent of breads, savory snacks, and cheeses did.

The researchers looked at all sales in 2009 from grocery stores in 3 United States Census regions: the South Atlantic, East North Central, and Pacific. In all 3 divisions, 50 percent or more of products sold in most food categories exceeded the sodium-per-serving conditions for a healthy food.

FDA allows food manufacturers label food as healthy only if the food contains less than 480 milligrams of sodium in a single serving of individual foods such as bread, or less than 600 milligrams in a main dish meal.

It is clear that most of the salt that Americans eat is hidden in processed foods such as bread. In fact, bread is the single biggest source of sodium in the American diet because people eat so much of it.

Data found in the study also supports recent findings that meeting sodium recommendations might be difficult in the current food environment because many of the top-selling packaged food products in each region were national brands, regional variation in sodium content of available products may be limited.

Public is, therefore, advised to get fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables since unprocessed food rarely contains much sodium. If one wants to buy packaged food, he or she should spend some time reading the label and should try choosing a lower sodium option.

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