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Americans Buying Fewer Salty Foods

Americans Buying Fewer Salty Foods
June 15
14:16 2017

(HealthDay News) — Americans’ addiction to salt may be waning, as food manufacturers gradually cut amounts in their products and consumers opt for less salty fare, a new study suggests.

A survey of more than 172,000 households found that between 2000 and 2014 the amount of salt in the packaged food and drinks people bought was reduced by nearly 400 milligrams (mg) a day, dropping from more than 2,300 mg to less than 2,000 mg a day.

At the same time, the salt content of packaged foods consumers purchased decreased 12 percent, said lead researcher Jennifer Poti, a nutritional epidemiologist and research assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Our findings suggest that U.S. households are getting less sodium from the grocery store than they did 15 years ago, yet sodium levels in packaged foods are still too high,” she said.

The researchers also found that the average salt content food consumers purchased decreased for all major packaged foods, including 49 mg less salt in about every 4 ounces of condiments, sauces, dips and salty snacks.

Despite these declines, less than 2 percent of U.S. households purchased packaged food and drinks with the optimal amount of salt — a tiny fraction of a teaspoon of salt for each calorie in the foods they ate, Poti noted.

For the study, Poti and her colleagues used data from the Nielsen Company on packaged food and beverage purchases by U.S. households. Household members used a barcode scanner to record their purchases.

High levels of salt consumption have been tied to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) a day and an ideal limit of about half a teaspoon (1,500 mg) per day for most adults.

But salt is sneaky. Most of the salt people eat is in packaged foods and restaurant meals — only a small amount comes from salt added at the table. Salt lurks in places you might not suspect, such as bread, pasta and cheese, Poti said.

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