The Truth about Salt

March 1, 2012

February is American’s National Heart Month, which attracts nation-wide attention to heart health once again. CDC just published its 61 volume of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on February 10th, in which they investigated on American’s consumption of salt. As you may know, excessive consumption of salt raises blood pressure especially in sodium sensitive population: a threat for a healthy heart.

CDC’s report analyzed data from the 2007–2008 What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), in which approximately 7100 people within various ethnic groups had participated.

Following are the key findings and recommendations from the CDC report.

1. Many Americans eat too much salt.
Recommended daily sodium consumption is <2,300 mg, and is 1,500 mg for
groups that are more sodium sensitive. However, American’s average dietary
sodium intake is 3,266 mg/day, and about 90% of us consume way more sodium than recommended.

2. 44% of the sodium consumed is coming from 10 main categories of foods, and surprisingly, bread is at the top of the list.

The 10 main categories are: bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta mixed dishes, meat mixed dishes, and savory snacks.

3. More than 85% of dietary sodium from foods and drinks comes from stores or restaurants rather than home cooked foods.

4. Reducing the sodium content of the 10 leading sources by one fourth would reduce total dietary sodium by more than 10%.

How come breads and rolls contribute the most toward our sodium intake? While the amount of salt in commercial bread is not extremely high (about 150mg per serving), we eat so much of them on a daily basis and small quantities added up.

To cut back on your sodium intake, you can:

  • Choose unprocessed foods.
  • Prepare more meals and snacks at home.
  • Limit your intake of bread, deli meats, and canned soups.
  • Choose other starches like rice, pasta, or potatoes over bread.
  • Eat fruits and veggies for snacks.

By: Xuan Qin

Editor: Kate Sweeney


Centers for Disease Control. Vital Signs: Foot Categories Contributing the Most to Sodium Consumption- United States 2007-2008. MMWR. February 10, 2012. 61(05);92-98.

Entry Filed under: Nutrition. .

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