Salty News from the Institute of Medicine!

flickr photo from ladybugbkt
It's hot off the press.  And it's salty!
Back in 2008, Congress gave the Institute of Medicine (IOM) a new task: help people decrease their salt intake so that it matches the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The Dietary Guidelines recommends 2,300 mg of salt per day for anyone older than 2 years old.  Did you know this equals a mere 1 teaspoon of salt per day?  Unfortunately Americans are averaging 3,400 mg each day-way more than is necessary!

So the Institute got busy.  And after months of hard work, they released their official report today!  Check it out: "Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States."

In their report, IOM recognizes that current salt content in the American food system is "too high to be safe."  Excess salt increases risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to a variety of diseases.  In response, the IOM calls for a coordinated approach from foodservice industry and government to slowly lower the salt content in the food supply.

Here's the main points:

  • Americans have been eating more and more sodium since the 1970s.  We have become accustomed to high levels of salt in processed foods and restaurants, and need to re-program our palates!
  • Lowering salt can help everyone avoid high blood pressure and heart disease; salt cutbacks are not just for people who already have high blood pressure.  
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to set national salt standards for processed foods and menu items.  (A false article yesterday from the Washington Post got everyone excited, including me:  Report Urges FDA to Force Rollback.  However the FDA is not going into action just yet: FDA Press Release)
  • Government and non-government agencies need to make salt reduction a nation-wide campaign.  
  • Food scientists need to develop creative ways for scrumptious, low-salt foods.
  • Consumers need to do their part too!  Make healthy food choices and select lower salt foods.  Get ideas: Quick Tips to Be Sodium Savvy from the International Food Information Council Foundation, or Tips For Reducing Sodium in Your Diet from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.  
Trends in Salt Intake from Food, 1970-2006.
Taken straight from the IOM report.  Trends in Mean Sodium Intake from Food.
The IOM concludes by saying, "Without major change, hypertension and cardiovascular disease rates will continue to rise, and consumers, who have little choice, will pay the price for inaction."

Okie-dokie.  Thank you IOM!


Susan Yuen said...

Really great info... I really need to take a look at how much salt my family and myself take in. Thanks for sharing. :)

Lia Chen said...

Thanks for this great post! I love to eat salty food, but after reading this ... I think I need to be careful with the salt intake.

MelindaRD said...

I once had to write a handout for patient use that was below the 6th grade level on low sodium intake. It was very hard, but really came down to avoid canned products, don't add salt when cooking, don't add salt at the table, and reduce intake of restaurant meals. Things like that, but worded in the most basic of all wording.

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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