New York City seems to have taken a leadership role in nutrition advocacy. The city, first to mandate menu labeling in chain restaurants, is now considering ways to decrease salt intake. Last month, mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Doctor Thomas Frieden met with food industry leader to discuss a voluntary initiative to reduce public salt intake by 20% over the next five years. Details of the plan are as of yet unknown.
What you need to know:
The American diet is way too salty. The sodium in salt increases blood pressure and leads to an array of health problems. 75-80 percent of the salt Americans consume is from packaged foods and eating establishments (read: Fast Food). Only 10-15% is added while cooking or at the table. Another 10% occurs naturally in foods.
A single player in the industry can’t just decide to reduce salt levels in its products, because of the fear people will switch to a competitor’s better tasting brand. Perhaps creating a regulated path for the entire food industry to reduce salt levels together and gradually, is the way to wean us off excess salt.
What to do at the supermarket:
It’s hard to know how much salt you are getting in restaurant fare, but very easy to do so at the grocery store. Just take a look at the nutrition label and look for sodium. The daily maximum for healthy adults is 2400mg of sodium, which is a teaspoonful.
If you see a product with more than 600mg (25% DV) per serving, that’s a high amount of sodium. Look for low salt alternatives. Canned soups, notoriuous for their high salt levels, now come in reduced sodium options. Try it. You can always add more salt at the table at home.