Extension notes is written by K-State Extension of Harvey County extension agents Scott Eckert, Susan Jackson and Ryan Flaming. They focus on horticulture and agriculture.
Potato chips and salted peanuts are two foods that I have a difficult time eating in moderation. I truly understand the advertisement, "I bet you can't eat just one."
Yes, salt is my weakness. Recently there has been more evidence that Americans need to reduce their sodium intake.
Sodium is an essential nutrient and is needed by the body in relatively small quantities, provided that substantial sweating does not occur. On average, the higher an individualís sodium intake, the higher the individualís blood pressure. A strong body of evidence in adults documents that as sodium intake decreases, so does blood pressure. Moderate evidence in children also has documented that as sodium intake decreases, so does blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure in the normal range reduces an individualís risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Therefore, adults and children should limit their intake of sodium.
The estimated average intake of sodium for all Americans ages 2 years and older is approximately 3,400 mg per day.
The Dietary Guidelines of Americans provides science-based advice to promote health and reduce the risk of major chronic disease through diet and physical activity.
Key recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend reducing daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg. and further reduce intake to 1500 mg. among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.
Here is an example of how sodium in one meal can add up:
1/2 cup canned green beans 380 mg sodium
1 cup seasoned rice from box 760 mg
5 wheat crackers 160 mg
2 hot dogs 1220 mg
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce 250 mg
2770 mg total
Healthy Americans should have no more than 2300 mg sodium in one day, not one meal
Americans can reduce their consumption of sodium in a variety of ways:
• Read the Nutrition Facts label for information on the sodium content of foods and purchase foods that are low in sodium.
• Consume more fresh foods and fewer processed foods that are high in sodium.
• Eat more home-prepared foods, where you have more control over sodium, and use little or no salt or salt-containing seasonings when cooking or eating foods.
• When eating at restaurants, ask that salt not be added to your food or order lower sodium options, if available.
Salt added at the table and in cooking provides only a small proportion of the total sodium that Americans consume. Most sodium comes from salt added during food processing. Many types of processed foods contribute to the high intake of sodium
Some sodium-containing foods are high in sodium, but the problem of excess sodium intake also is due to frequent consumption of foods that contain lower amounts of sodium, such as yeast breads, which contribute 7 percent of the sodium in the U.S. diet. Other sources of sodium include chicken and chicken mixed dishes. Chicken naturally contains little sodium. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes can be prepared by purchasing chicken that has not had sodium added to it and by not adding salt or ingredients containing sodium.
Given the current U.S. marketplace and the resulting excessive high sodium intake, it is challenging to meet even the less than 2,300 mg recommendation — fewer than 15 percent of Americans do so currently.
— Susan Jackson is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Her specialty is Family and Consumer Sciences.