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August 2017 Issue

Most of Salt Comes from Prepared Foods

Though nutrition experts advise people to limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day to reduce the risks of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, eight out of ten Americans exceed this level, according to new research published in Circulation. The average intake was about 3,500 mg per day among the 450 participants studied.

salt shaker

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The saltshaker at the table is not the main culprit in our high sodium diets.

Ditching the saltshaker at the table may be the first line approach to slash salt intake, however the study found that salt added at the table was a minor contributor of sodium in the diet, providing only about 5 percent of sodium in the diet. In fact, only 10 percent of sodium came from foods prepared at home. Restaurant meals and store-bought foods, including crackers, breads and soups, accounted for 71 percent of sodium intake. When you prepare foods at home, you typically use less salt than many food manufacturers or restaurants add. What to do? Find your way back to the kitchen and prepare more of your meals from scratch, starting with minimally processed ingredients, including unprocessed meats, fish or poultry; dried beans or lentils, intact whole grains, and seasonal produce. Your heart will thank you for it.