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Press Release

American Dietetic Association Supports Institute of Medicine recommendations for Decreasing Sodium Intake

2010-04-20

Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802 media@eatright.org

CHICAGO – The American Dietetic Association supports recommendations released Tuesday, April 20, by the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake to make progress in reducing the amount of salt Americans eat on a daily basis.

“High levels of salt in the diet are associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, particularly among certain vulnerable groups and individuals,” said registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo.

Among the IOM’s recommended strategies for reducing what it calls “Americans’ excessive sodium consumption” is to set federal standards for the amount of salt that food manufacturers, restaurants and foodservice providers can add to their products, since “the vast majority of people’s sodium intake comes from salt that companies put in prepared meals and processed foods.” The goal, according to the IOM, is to “make it easier for consumers to eat lower, healthier amounts of salt.”

Salt and sodium have important functional purposes in food systems beyond flavor, Gazzaniga-Moloo said. “They have been used throughout history to inhibit bacterial growth and to control spoilage. But the proliferation of packaged foods over recent decades has helped lead to substantially increased levels of sodium consumption.”

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the average adult should consume no more than about 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, or about one teaspoon of salt – an amount ADA supports as a realistic target.

The Dietary Guidelines also recommend no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for at-risk populations including African-Americans, any person with hypertension and any person over 40 years of age. This lower recommendation would apply to nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults. The IOM report estimates the average American adult consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day.

“While reducing the amount of sodium in every food category may not be feasible, efforts need to be made to support the IOM recommendations. Government agencies, health professionals and the food industry need to work together to help consumers reduce their sodium intake,” Gazzaniga-Moloo said.

ADA offers ideas for lowering salt consumption and reducing sodium intake to recommended levels:

  • Prepare food using little salt or fewer high-sodium ingredients. For example, skip using salt in cooking pasta, rice, cereals and vegetables.
  • Taste food before salting it, and use table salt only as needed, not as a habit.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, most of which contain little sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices rubs and fruit juices in cooking in place of salt.
  • Check food labels for terms like low sodium, very low sodium or sodium free.
  • Fresh meats, poultry, fish, dry and fresh legumes, unsalted nuts, eggs, milk and yogurt all contain less sodium.

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The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.