Most people in the United States eat more salt than is recommended. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines call for less than 2300 milligrams of sodium daily, and less than 1500 milligrams for at-risk groups (non-Hispanic blacks, persons aged ≥ 51 years, and persons with hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease). Close to 9 out of 10 Americans who should be consuming less than 2300 milligrams of sodium and a whopping 99% of those who should consume less than 1500 milligrams of sodium exceed these recommendations. That’s a problem because excessive sodium increases the risk for high blood pressure and for heart disease and stroke.
If we could identify foods that are the main sources of sodium on a day-to-day basis, we could start taking steps to cut the salt. A new study identifies the top 10 categories – foods that contribute the most sodium to the average American’s diet on a daily basis. Here they are, ranked from highest to lowest contributor of sodium:
- Breads and rolls
- Cold cuts/cured meats
- Pasta Dishes
- Meat Mixed Dishes (like meat loaf)
- Savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels)
While many categories on the list are not vegan, there are still a couple of messages here for vegans. First of all, some foods that may be eaten by vegans, including bread and rolls, soups, and salted snacks can supply more salt than we need. It’s a good idea to check labels for sodium and choose lower sodium foods. Secondly, notice what’s not on the list. That would be fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, among others. Cutting down on sodium on an individual basis means eating fewer processed foods. That’s where people who are already used to eating whole plant foods have the advantage. For a week’s worth of low sodium menus see http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2005issue4/2005_issue4_lowsodium.php.
The study's authors say, “Reducing the sodium content of the 10 leading sources by one fourth would reduce total dietary sodium by more than 10%. This could prevent an estimated 28,000 deaths and $7 billion in health-care expenditures annually.” We have to wonder what the effect would be of eliminating categories 2, 3, 7, and 9 completely.
This study was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.