"Only 11 percent is coming from home - from salt shaker or cooking,"
said lead author Lisa Harnack, of the University of Minnesota School
of Public Health in Minneapolis. "The rest is coming from other
Harnack and colleagues write in the journal Circulation that since
1980 the Dietary Guidelines for Americans put out by the government
urged reducing sodium. Most Americans get too much.
"About a third of Americans have high blood pressure and people who
have high blood pressure are told to reduce sodium in their diet,"
Harnack told Reuters Health.
The current recommendation is that people get less than 2,300
milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, which is the amount in about 1
teaspoon of salt.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2010 recommended reducing sodium
in commercially packaged and prepared foods, the researchers note.
To determine the sources of salt in people's diets, the researchers
recruited 450 adults from Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis,
Minnesota; and Palo Alto, California between 2013 and 2014.
The participants were interviewed to determine everything they ate
over four days. They were also seen in clinics, and gave researchers
a plastic bag containing the same amount of salt they added when
The average amount of sodium in people's daily diets was 3,501 mg,
on average, researchers found.
Some groups had more sodium in their diets than others. For example,
men ate more sodium overall than women. Black or Asian participants
tended to add more salt to their food than Hispanics. Also, people
with lower levels of education tended to consume more sodium than
those with higher levels.
For all groups, sodium added during the manufacturing process was
the leading source in the diet.
The researchers found that 71 percent of sodium in the participants'
diets came from outside the home, through restaurants or processed
foods. Another 14 percent occurred naturally in food.
About 6 percent of sodium came from what people added during meal
preparation, and 5 percent came from what they added while they were
[to top of second column]
Less than 1 percent of sodium came from dietary supplements and
Harnack said the results show most sodium is coming from items
bought in stores - like potato chips - or foods like hamburgers
ordered at restaurants.
"They really need to be reading the nutrition panels in grocery
stores and choose carefully at restaurants," said Harnack.
The results have implications for patients, doctors and policy, Dr.
Lawrence Appel and Kathryn Foti of Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore, write in an editorial accompanying the new study.
People should focus on product selection, they add, and doctors
should also emphasize this to patients. For policymakers, they say
the study reinforces the 2010 IOM recommendation to reduce sodium in
"Efforts to reduce the sodium content in our food supply have
tremendous potential to lower (blood pressure) and prevent
cardiovascular disease," Appel and Foti conclude.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2pAjrRx and http://bit.ly/2q3Wb1a Circulation,
online May 8, 2017.
(This story corrects spelling of "from" in paragraph 3 and spelling
of "researchers" in paragraph 9.)
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