There are times when most of us crave salty foods like chips and fries.
The problem is we satisfy those urges too often. The result is Americans get way too much salt, and much of the time we are consuming it in processed and prepared foods without even realizing it.
Steve from Malden Declared his Curiosity.
“Lightly seasoned food is always the best. How does eating this very salty food affect my health?”
Public heath officials believe the impact is severe. They link high sodium consumption to 150,000 deaths.
The federal government is considering strong action to reign in salt consumption.
Marc Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said, “Salt is probably the single most harmful chemical in our food supply.”
The average American consumes about a teaspoon and a half of salt which is about twice as much as we should.
Only about 11 percent of the sodium we eat comes from the salt shaker in our kitchen. The majority is from processed foods.
A national coalition has formed to try and create awareness about salt consumption, and to pressure food manufacturers to use less. It’s called the “National Salt Reduction Initiative.” Sixteen major food manufacturers are now involved in the effort.
Nutritionist Joan Salge Blake says the best way to get Americans accustomed to less salt is to bring the levels down slowly over time. “You could adjust the taste so it wouldn’t taste unnatural,” she added.
Restaurant chains like Subway and Starbucks are also going to make heart healthy changes to these menus.
These adjustments are voluntary, but the Food and Drug Administration is considering mandatory changes. They could include regulating salt like a food additive.
Consumers are mixed on the idea of the government taking this kind of role. One man told us that it is a good move, because “sodium is a killer.”
One woman felt otherwise and said “that it’s up to the person and not the government.”
Salge Blake believes something needs be done, particularly as Americans get heavier and less healthy. “High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” she explained.
Some changes are coming before the government makes a ruling. Famous brands like Heinz Ketchup are voluntarily making changes, such as reformulating their ketchup with 15 percent less sodium.
If the FDA does make a regulatory change, it is expected it will be phased in over 10 years.
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