UK leads the pack in promoting Sodium Reduction!
Since October 2003, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom has been working on educating the public about salt reduction. Their goal is to achieve an average population salt intake target of 6g per day by 2010. On March 21, 2006, the FSA published voluntary salt reduction targets for food manufacturers and retailers to further encourage a reduction in the amount of salt in a wide range of processed foods.
In the salt targets document, FSA specifically limits the amount of salt per 100 g of an array of packaged foods such as meat, canned soup, sauces, and even take-outs. These targets definitely help push the whole food industry in UK to lower the use of salt in manufacturing their packaged foods.
Where do you find Sodium?
Hiding your salt shaker is not enough to cut back on sodium as 75% of our salt intake comes from packaged foods alone!
- Packaged Foods high in Sodium
- canned soup
- canned vegetables and beans
- frozen dinners
- cup noodles/soup-to-go
- frozen pizza
- sauce, marinade & dressings
- breakfast cereal
- processed meats such as bacon, ham & sausages
- smoked/cured fish and meat
- crackers & cookies
What is the sodium recommendation in the US?
The sodium recommendation made by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program NHBPEP is less than 2400 mg per day (~1 tsp of salt). This recommendation is consistent with the UK’s 6 g salt target (1 g salt roughly = 400 mg sodium). The Dietary Guidelines suggested an even stricter amount of 2,300 mg daily. For people with heart disease, the American Heart Association recommended not more than 2,000 mg of sodium intake per day.
How do you cut back on Sodium?
The good news is – you can cut down on sodium by simply switching from processed foods to fresh foods. In addition, always look for the low-sodium versions of the packaged food.
- choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned
- choose low-sodium broth and soup
- limit cured meats or foods packed in brine; choose fresh meats instead
- limit instant foods such as instant rice & noodles as well as frozen dinners
- rinse and drain canned foods such as canned vegetables if possible
Furthermore, look out for any form of the word “sodium” on the ingredient list. Additives such as sodium chloride, sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate are a few examples of hidden sodium found in packaged foods.
Notes on a low sodium diet: In general, a diet that emphasizes fruits & vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy appears effective in shaving points off a blood pressure reading. In particular, shedding pounds, cutting down on sodium, boosting potassium intake and limiting alcohol are all proven ways to help control blood pressure.
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.