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New FDA Guidelines for lower sodium content in processed foods

New FDA Guidelines for lower sodium content in processed foods

Nov 12th 2021
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has lowered the recommended amount of salt in processed, packaged and prepared foods. The objective of the new, voluntary guideline is to help reduce the daily sodium intake of Americans from 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 3,000 mg per day, nearly 12 percent, over the next 2.5 years.

report published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that Americans consume 50% more sodium than recommended, on average, and more than 95% of children aged two to 13 years old exceed recommended limits of sodium in their age groups. FDA called it a critical step in efforts to reduce the burden of diet-related chronic disease and advance health equity. Too much sodium intake leads to hypertension, and that causes both heart disease, strokes and even kidney damage. Every year, these diseases take lives of thousands of people in America. Limiting sodium content in diet can play a huge role in preventing these diseases.

According to FDA’s official statement, packaged, processed, and restaurant foods make up an estimated 70% of the sodium we eat. Despite this change, the new FDA sodium guidelines still does not meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends a limit of 2,300 milligrams per day for those 14 and older. FDA’s move is commended by the health societies and associations all over the US but demanded more steps to combat the situation.

Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure damages the kidneys over time and is a leading cause of kidney failure. As high blood pressure rates have increased, kidney disease has spiraled to the point where it now affects 26 million Americans. Strategies that reduce salt intake for the masses can have the effect of lowering blood pressure and that may be beneficial in easing the burden of chronic kidney disease in the country.

Following are some tips by the National Kidney Foundation to help Americans reduce salt intake.

  • Use fresh foods, rather than packaged foods including beef, chicken or pork. If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, the sodium content is too high.
  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables as well since they are very low in sodium. Canned and frozen fruits are also low in sodium, as these usually don’t contain added sodium.
  • When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labeled “fresh frozen” and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
  • Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content, since this will vary from brand to brand.
  • Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels, i.e. choose garlic powder over garlic salt.
  • Do your research, before dining out. Visit the restaurant’s website which should list the sodium content of various dishes served there. Alternatively, when you’re at the restaurant and ready to order, you can request that the dish be served without salt.
  • Beware of products that don’t taste especially salty but still have high sodium content, such as cottage cheese.