Category Archives: salt

Too much processed packaged food contains too much sodium

KFC_Bandung_Supermall-300x199Just last week we learned that packaged processed foods account for the majority of grocery spending in America. We’re already aware that Americans consume too much sodium. So this new information shouldn’t be too surprising.

According to a recent study conducted by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) packaged and processed foods contain too much salt. Around 80 percent of the excessive salt intake is caused by the packaged grocery store food.

CDC stated that 77% of the excessive salt consumption was due to restaurant meals and other packaged foods that were all found to contain a very high amount of salt. They found that home cooked food had lesser amount of salt hence good for health.

“Americans consume an average of 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day (excluding salt added at the table). But the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. About six in 10 adults should further limit sodium to 1,500 mg a day,” states CDC in its official report.

“Although most of the regional differences found did not have a clear direction or contributor, some may relate to regional variations in the popularity of specific types of products within a food category,” CDC said.

“We looked at bread, cold cuts, pizza, poultry, soup, sandwiches, cheese, pasta-mixed dishes, meat-mixed dishes and savory snacks,” she said.

It may become a surprise for many people that bread is actually a high offender when it comes to salt but in fact most of the sodium people intake comes from bread.

“A lot of foods that people don’t think taste salty do actually have a lot of sodium in them. So, we recommend people just read those nutrition labels, make comparisons, try to choose lower sodium options, be sure to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and meats and cook more at home because that way you have more control over the amount of sodium.”

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize the idea that America’s salt problem isn’t a result of the salt in their salt shakers. It’s a result of the salt in the processed foods in our grocery stores. Shop carefully. Understand the differences in processed foods and if you can’t eliminate them completely from your diet, stay away from highly processed items. Shop for ingredients you need to prepare meals, not prepared meals. We can get sodium consumption under control with understanding, awareness and action. We’ll all be healthier for it.

http://www.theamericanregister.com/cdc-says-packaged-processed-food-contains-too-much-sodium/10491/

It’s not just about high blood pressure: the effects of salt on other organs

salt sprinkled on tableWe all know that salt can have negative health effects. We know that’s true, and yet, FoodFacts.com doesn’t see any decrease in the sales of processed foods and millions are still walking through the doors of major fast food chains every day.

You may think you’re one of the lucky ones who can eat all the salty snacks and convenience foods you want and still register low numbers on the blood pressure cuff. But, new research suggests you may not be so lucky after all.

A review paper co-authored by two faculty members in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and two physicians at Christiana Care Health System provides evidence that even in the absence of an increase in blood pressure, excess dietary sodium can adversely affect target organs, including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain.

Authors of the paper, “Dietary Sodium and Health: More Than Just Blood Pressure,” include William Farquhar and David Edwards in UD’s Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology; William Weintraub, chief of cardiology at Christiana Care; and Claudine Jurkovitz, a nephrologist epidemiologist and senior scientist in the Value Institute Center for Outcomes Research at Christiana Care.

The paper was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Blood pressure responses to alterations in dietary sodium vary widely, which has led to the concept of ‘salt-sensitive’ blood pressure,” says Farquhar. “There are no standardized guidelines for classifying individuals as having salt-sensitive blood pressure, but if blood pressure increases during a period of high dietary sodium or decreases during a low-sodium period, the person is considered salt sensitive. If there’s no change in blood pressure with sodium restriction, an individual is considered salt resistant.”

However, the research cited in the paper points to evidence of adverse effects on multiple target organs and tissues, even for people who are salt resistant.

Potential effects on the arteries include reduced function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial cells mediate a number of processes, including coagulation, platelet adhesion and immune function. Elevated dietary sodium can also increase arterial stiffness.

Farquhar and Edwards have done previous work in this area, with one study showing that excess salt intake in humans impairs endothelium-dependent dilation and another demonstrating that dietary sodium loading impairs microvascular function. In both cases, the effects are independent of changes in blood pressure.

They review their work and the growing body of evidence to support a deleterious effect of dietary salt on vascular function independent of blood pressure in a recent invited paper in Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension.

“High dietary sodium can also lead to left ventricular hypertrophy, or enlargement of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the heart’s main pumping chamber,” Edwards says. “As the walls of the chamber grow thicker, they become less compliant and eventually are unable to pump as forcefully as a healthy heart.”

Regarding the kidneys, evidence suggests that high sodium is associated with reduced renal function, a decline observed with only a minimal increase in blood pressure.

Finally, sodium may also affect the sympathetic nervous system, which activates what is often termed the fight-or-flight response.

“Chronically elevated dietary sodium may ‘sensitize’ sympathetic neurons in the brain, causing a greater response to a variety of stimuli, including skeletal muscle contraction,” Farquhar says. “Again, even if blood pressure isn’t increased, chronically increased sympathetic outflow may have harmful effects on target organs.”

Jurkovitz points out that studying the effects of salt restriction on clinical outcomes is not easy. Challenges include accurate assessment of intake, long-term maintenance on a defined salt regimen, and the need for large numbers of patients and extended follow-up to obtain enough outcomes for meaningful analysis.

However, she says, “A large body of evidence confirms the biological plausibility of the association between high sodium intake and increases in blood pressure and cardiovascular events.”

This evidence has resulted in the American Heart Association’s recommendation that we consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

Taking the salt shaker off the table is a good way to start, but it’s probably not enough, says Weintraub, whose work focuses on cardiology outcomes.

“Approximately 70 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods, including items that we don’t typically think of as salty such as breads and cereals,” he says. “Also, restaurant food typically contains more salt than dishes prepared at home, so eating out less can help reduce salt intake, especially if herbs and spices — instead of salt — are used to add flavor to home-cooked meals.”

But the authors acknowledge that shaking the salt habit won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.

“Reducing sodium will take a coordinated effort involving organizations like the AHA, food producers and processors, restaurants, and public policy aimed at education,” Weintraub says.
FoodFacts.com thinks we should all remember this research the next time we reach for a processed food product or think to ourselves that our favorite bowl of soup from our favorite casual restaurant can’t be that bad. All of us need to be more conscious of our salt consumption and try our best to work towards a meaningful reduction of sodium in our diets.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/290734.php

Our addictions to salt and sugar may start with baby food

baby-eatingFoodFacts.com has been advocating for better childhood nutrition for quite some time. We’ve watched as commercially prepared baby food extended to include commercially prepared toddler food. Snacks for babies and toddlers increasingly include packaged products from our grocery stores. It’s a tough situation for parents as their schedules become busier and busier. In a two-parent working household, these products save time, which is the most precious commodity for any busy family in 2015. But it may come with a high price.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the majority of pre-packaged meals and snacks for toddlers in the US contain high levels of salt or sugar, which researchers say could be putting children’s health at risk.

Study leader Mary Cogswell, of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her team used a 2012 US nutrient database to analyze the sodium and sugar content of 1,074 commercial foods for infants and toddlers.

Within their analysis, they included pre-packaged dinners – such as macaroni cheese and mini hot dogs – snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.

Their findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that 72% of the pre-packaged toddler meals assessed were high in sodium, containing an average of 361 milligrams (mg) per serving.

According to recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), toddlers should consume no more than 210 mg of sodium per food serving, meaning that the pre-packaged toddler meals analyzed in this study contained sodium at levels almost 1.5 times higher.

IOM recommendations for school foods also state that children should consume no more than 35% of calories from sugar in each food portion.

However, the researchers found that dry fruit-based snacks included in the study contained an average of 60 g of sugar per portion, meaning around 66% of calories were coming from sugar. Sugar made up an average of 47% of calories among mixed grains and fruit and accounted for more than 35% of calories in dairy-based desserts.

At least one added sugar – including glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose – was found in around 32% of pre-packaged infant and toddler meals, as well as the majority of dry-based fruit snacks, cereal/breakfast bars and pastries, desserts and fruit juices.

While around 7 out of 10 meals for toddlers contained too much sodium, the researchers found most foods for infants were low in sodium – only two of the 657 infant foods contained sodium at levels higher than 140 mg per serving.

It is estimated that 79% of children aged 1-3 years in the US consume sodium at levels higher than the recommended 1,500 mg per day, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attackand stroke. Approximately 1 in 6 children in the US have high blood pressure.

In addition, a 2009 study from the American Heart Association found that the average child aged 1-3 years consumes around 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, while recommendations from the organization state that children this age should consume no more than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar each day.

As well as high blood pressure, excess sugar and salt intake can increase the risk of obesity. In the US, more than a third of children and adolescents are obese.

As such, Cogswell and her team say the high sodium or sugar content of infant and toddler foods assessed in their study are worrying:

“Commercial toddler foods and infant or toddler snacks, desserts and juice drinks are of potential concern due to sodium or sugar content. Pediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts and juice drinks.”

The researchers add that excess intake of foods high in sugar and salt early in life may cause children to develop a preference for such foods later in life, increasing their risk of obesity and related diseases. Limiting the intake of these foods for infants and toddlers, however, may reduce this risk.

So what are busy parents supposed to do? Great advice is given right here. Read labels as carefully as you can. Take note of sodium and sugar levels in the products you buy for your children. And whenever you have time, make food for your children in your own kitchen. Before baby and toddler food ever existed in the grocery store, parents did exactly that. And toddlers can and should be eating whatever you are in smaller amounts and smaller pieces. Let’s do our best to make sure that our kids grow up without demanding additional salt and sugar in their diets because they’ve been over-exposed from the time they were first introduced to foods. They’ll be happier and healthier in the long run!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288837.php

Panera Bread brings back the Steak & White Cheddar Panini

panera_horiz_logoWe know that Panera Bread has plenty of fans. There’s plenty of variety on the menu. The food is tasty. And people feel as though a meal from Panera is a better choice than a meal from McDonalds. The chain carries its own “health halo” — the food is fresher, it tastes like actual food and so Panera has been deemed a better option than average fast food.

In some ways fans are right — Panera Bread isn’t McDonald’s. But to be honest, it’s not that far away from it. And the reintroduction of the Steak & White Cheddar Panini proves the point.

Let’s take a look at the sandwich and find out what’s really going on in there.

The nutrition facts apply to a whole sandwich. Remember that at Panera, you can order a half sandwich as part of a combo with pasta, salad or soup. If you simply order the sandwich, though, it will come full size. Let’s get to those facts:

Calories:                     960
Fat:                             36 grams
Sodium:                     1860 mg.

Wow. That’s just too much of everything! After eating this sandwich, you’ve only got another 540 mg to consume for the rest of the day. And you’ll be spending 960 calories out of your average 2000 calorie a day diet on one sandwich.

Here are the ingredients:

French baguette (unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, salt, natural base [calcium diphosphate, malted barley flour, dextrose, distilled monoglycerides, rye flour, sunflower lecithin, wheat flour, enzymes, ascorbic acid], yeast [yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid]), beef sirloin tip (beef sirloin, seasoning [spice, dehydrated garlic, sea salt, canola oil]), white cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, microbial enzymes), caramelized red onions (red onions, balsamic vinaigrette [water, soybean oil, sugar, balsamic vinegar, distilled vinegar, contains less than 2% of salt, spices, xanthan gum, dehydrated garlic, natural flavors]), horseradish sauce (soybean oil, water, prepared horseradish [horseradish, vinegar, salt], egg yolks, distilled vinegar, corn starch- modified, salt, sugar, xanthan gum, natural flavors including mustard oil).

So it’s not McDonald’s. The ingredient list is a far cry from the Big Mac. But there are still far too many items in the list — and we’re not fans of natural flavor. Especially when all those ingredients cost 960 calories and come with three quarters of our daily sodium.

We can think of better lunch options. And while we understand that many find Panera Bread to be a solution to the fast food dilemma, FoodFacts.com just can’t get on board.

https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/sandwiches-panini.html#steak-white-cheddar-panini

90% of children in the United States are eating too much salt!

?????????????????????????????????????More news about the over consumption of salt here in the United States … and it’s definitely not what we want to hear.

American kids are eating far too much salt, mostly from processed foods sold in stores, putting them at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease later in life, federal health officials said last week.

A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 90 percent of American children ages 6 to 18 consume too much sodium daily.

Those children eat an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium daily even before salt is added at the table, according to the CDC study based on national surveys in 2009 and 2010. That exceeds dietary guidelines calling for less than 2,300 mg per day.

The CDC noted that one in six young Americans already has elevated blood pressure – a condition closely linked to high sodium intake and obesity that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

The report found that 43 percent of the sodium came from 10 popular types of foods, including pizza, sandwiches like cheeseburgers, cold cuts and cured meats, pasta with sauce, cheese, salty snacks like potato chips, chicken nuggets and patties, tacos and burritos, bread and soup.

“Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the salt shaker,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems.”

Dinner was the largest single source of sodium, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the daily intake, the study found.

The report said 65 percent of the sodium intake came from foods purchased in stores, with most of the sodium already in the products when purchased. Fast food restaurants including pizza places accounted for another 13 percent, the CDC said.

Meals offered at school accounted for 9 percent of total sodium consumption. Teenagers ate more sodium than younger children, according to the study that drew from interviews with more than 2,000 school-aged children.

The study found a need to reduce sodium “across multiple foods, venues and eating occasions,” the CDC researchers said. In particular, processed foods should have less sodium, the researchers said, citing efforts in Britain that reduced total sodium consumption
by 15 percent over seven years.

This new information is so concerning for future generations of Americans. FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that this report echos the idea that the majority of sodium in our diets does not come from the salt shakers on our kitchen tables. Instead, sodium is coming from the processed foods on our grocery shelves, restaurants and fast food restaurants. Our kids are not strangers to any of those sources. And the list detailed here is pretty eye-opening. While we can’t confine our kids to our kitchens, we can commit to cooking more fresh, healthy foods in our homes and making them readily available to our children. Our kids’ healthy futures depend on it.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/09/09/in-10-us-children-eat-too-much-salt-says-cdc/

Can high salt intake be related to the risk for multiple sclerosis?

World Multiple Sclerosis DaySalt. It seems like it’s always in the news. Too much is unhealthy. Too little might be unhealthy. The majority of our sodium intake is coming from the processed foods in our grocery stores, not from the salt shakers in our kitchens. Certain food products are just about guaranteed to contain more sodium than others. The list goes on. But no matter how the latest news is reported, a few basic ideas remain consistent. We need sodium in our diets to help our bodies function properly, but too much is unhealthy — and the majority of us are getting much too much. And much too much can result in things like high blood pressure and the buildup of fluid in people with congestive heart failure and kidney disease. But are there any other health problems that can be linked to our excessive salt habit?

A novel study has unveiled that there might be an association between salt consumption and multiple sclerosis (MS) risk.

Currently, multiple sclerosis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. Previous studies have indicated that salt may alter the autoimmune disease. Keeping that factor in mind, researchers carried out the study to know if salt has a direct effect on the course of the disease.

The study was of observational nature. For the study, participants with relapsing-remitting MS were recruited and were divided into two groups. The first group had 70 patients. For two years in the follow-up period, clinical, radiology and sodium intake data was gathered.

For a year after enrolment, blood and urine samples were taken. Researchers measured level of salt and creatinine, a marker of inflammatory activity, in urine samples. Other things measured were serum sodium and vitamin D levels, as low level of it has been linked with MS.

The second group had 52 volunteers. Urine samples were collected and were assessed as per the same procedure used in the first group. Researchers found that volunteers who had high salt intake were four times more like to have severe MS symptoms.

Researchers considered the factors like age, gender, disease duration, smoking status, vitamin D levels, body mass index and treatment. When comparison was done on individual basis, people having moderate or high salt were found to witness around three times more progression in the systems and four times more likely to experience exacerbating symptoms.
“Findings suggest further research into whether dietary salt reduction could ease MS symptoms or slow the progression of the disease might now be warranted”, affirmed researchers.

FoodFacts.com can’t help but mention the onslaught of research we’ve seen lately revealing new insights into our food and ingredient consumption. This particular study showing a link between sodium and the progression of of multiple sclerosis symptoms is eye-opening and very unexpected. As we learn more about the unfortunate effects of excessive sodium consumption, we are encouraged by the idea that the preparation of fresh foods, in our own kitchens contributes to our health and well being. Just another reason to avoid the processed foods that contain too many and too much of a long list of things that don’t contribute to our health.

http://newsmaine.net/20449-high-salt-intake-may-be-linked-increased-ms-disease-activity-study

When it comes to salt, too little may be just as bad as too much

iStock_000014891232SmallWe know that high levels of sodium in our food supply are a serious problem. As also know that most of the sodium we consume daily isn’t coming from the salt shakers on our kitchen tables. Instead sodium resides in the myriad of processed foods residing on our grocery store shelves. High salt intake is in the news often with reports of a variety of health problems that can result from a high-sodium diet. But now, it appears that too little daily sodium might be bad for us too.

If the body takes in too much salt, there is a higher risk of hypertension, kidney problems, heart failure, stroke, and heart attacks. In a study focused on the effects of salt on blood pressure, nutritionists found out that those with moderate salt intake did not benefit from lessening their salt consumption as much as those who have high salt intake did.

In another study that focused on heart disease and death, researchers concluded that those with extremely low salt diets are not necessarily healthier. In fact, they said that extremely low salt intake can lead to health hazards.

A third study, however, said that there is a connection between less salt intake and better health.

All three studies were published on the August 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended that a person consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, TIME reports. To have an idea, a teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.

One of the things that all three studies have in common is that they all confirm that too much salt is indeed bad for the body.

New York Daily News reports that the average daily consumption of salt worldwide is about 7.5 to 15.0 grams, which translates to three to six grams of sodium. The number is well above the limit of 1.5 to 2.4 grams of sodium that is recommended by different organizations.

Dr. Andrew Mente of the McMaster University in Ontario and the chief author of the blood pressure study said:

“If people are eating a very high level of sodium and they reduce their intake, you get a large reduction in blood pressure. But if you’re eating moderate level of sodium—about what most North Americans eat—and you reduce it to a lower level, you’re not really getting much in return as far as blood pressure reduction is concerned.”

With the debate on salt still ongoing, one thing is for sure. The average salt intake worldwide is more than the recommended amount, and it should be changed. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Politcy at Tufts University said:

“The big picture is that high sodium is bad and should be reversed, and there’s just some controversy over how low you should go. Whether it should be 2 grams or 1.5 grams or 2.5 grams per day, that’s all theory. Right now it’s close to 4 grams per day. Let’s get it down below 3, and the we can argue how low it should go. But right now it’s clearly way too high.”

FoodFacts.com understands that the debate over the “perfect” amount of sodium we should consume daily may not yet be agreed upon by the experts. And while we understand the importance of that debate – especially in light of these new studies – we strongly believe and advocate for the preparation of fresh, whole foods at home in our own kitchens. The less we rely on processed products, the easier it will be for all of us to achieve a perfect balance of sodium in our daily diets.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1416601/salt-debate-too-little-salt-is-bad-too/#rQYF8IxstfDLzbU4.99

Too much salt may spell heart disease for diabetics

iStock_000030596950SmallDiabetes rates have soared in recent decades. For those who suffer with the disease, dietary vigilance becomes a way of life. It’s a condition that requires constant attention in order to maintain health and well-being. Diabetes can lead to any number of serious health problems, including heart disease.

Many have come to relate diabetes with sugar. Diabetics have to be careful of sugar and carbohydrate consumption. But it’s not only sugar that raises alarms for people with diabetes. Eating a high-salt diet may double the risk of developing heart disease in people with diabetes, according to a new study from Japan.

For any person, too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. To assess how people with diabetes fare in relation to the salt in their diet, the researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 diabetic patients, ages 40 and 70, from across Japan. The study participants answered questions about their diets, including their sodium intake, and were followed for eight years.

Participants with the highest sodium intake (about 6,000 milligrams per day, on average) were twice as likely to develop heart disease over the study period than those with the lowest sodium intake (about 2,800 milligrams per day, on average), the researchers found. Among the 359 people with the highest sodium intake, 41 developed heart disease, compared with 23 of the 354 people with lowest sodium intake. [4 Tips for Reducing Sodium]

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” study researcher Chika Horikawa, of the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan, said in a statement.

The researchers adjusted the results for other factors that may contribute to people’s heart disease risk, such as their alcohol consumption and total calorie intake, according to the study published today (July 22) in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The findings add to the evidence that consuming less salt could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes, the researchers said.

The negative effects of salt on blood pressure and heart health has long been established. Even for healthy, young people, dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. A limit of 1,500 mg is recommended for groups at increased risk of heart disease, including African-Americans, people older than 51, and people with high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes.

The average American takes in about 3,300 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Main sources of salt in people’s diet include salt used in cooking and sodium naturally found in meat, vegetables and dairy, as well as processed foods, which have high levels of sodium.

People with Type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, and the condition is a risk factor for heart disease. More than 29 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and another 86 million have high blood sugar levels and could progress to having diabetes, according to the CDC.

In the study, the researchers also found the effects of a high-sodium diet were worsened by poor blood sugar control. But they didn’t find a link between high-salt diet and other complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease or vision problems, or dying.

Sugar and salt. Sugar and salt. It seems we hear disturbing news about either or both more and more consistently. FoodFacts.com wants to remind everyone in our community that Americans consume far too much of each of them on a daily basis. And most importantly, we want to remind everyone that the bulk of the sugar and salt we are consuming does not come from the sugar bowls and salt shakers in our kitchens. Rather, they come from the copious amounts of processed foods it becomes more and more difficult for average consumers to avoid on a daily basis. This research is one more reason to be as conscious as we possibly can be about the quality and content of the foods we consume.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/07/23/high-salt-diet-may-double-diabetics-heart-disease-risk/

How about some chicken with your salt? While concerns about salt intake are on the rise, so is the sodium content of KFC meals

kfc-chicken-mealWe consume too much sodium. That’s not exactly big news. We hear about it fairly consistently. You would think that with all that news, it might make sense to find that food manufacturers and fast food chains are lowering the amount of sodium in their products and menu items. Not so, apparently.

With an increased concern about the role high sodium levels play in high blood pressure, kidney disease and other health issues, a number of restaurant chains have been attempting to cut back on the salt in recent years. A new review of meals from 17 of the nation’s most popular fast food and family eateries shows that most chains are slowly reducing the amounts of sodium in their food (though it’s still very high), while a small number of others have actually gone the other direction.

A new survey from the Center for Science in the Public Interest looks at a total of 136 meals from the 17 restaurant chains to see whether the sodium levels in those meals changed between 2009 and 2013.

While there is no hard-and-fast number on recommended sodium intake, both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control say that 1,500mg a day is a good number for those looking to avoid high blood pressure.

The CSPI study found that 79% of the adult meals surveyed were still above that 1,500mg line, with seven meals — mostly from family restaurants — containing more than three days’ worth of sodium.

In general, sodium levels have fallen, but not by much. According to the CSPI, the overall sodium reduction between 2009 and 2013 was only 6%, or 1.5% per year. Kids’ meals only dropped by 2.6% during the four-year period, and much of that was due to restaurants replacing french fries with fruit options.

The biggest names in fast food are also responsible for the biggest reductions in sodium. All of the meals surveyed at Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell demonstrated some level of sodium reduction.

Of that group, Subway’s efforts to cut salt were the most effective, reducing sodium levels nearly 28%, followed by Burger King at 27%. BK’s cheeseburger kids’ meal had the most substantial decrease in sodium (44%), going from 1,200mg to 840mg.

On the opposite end of the survey are those popular eateries where sodium levels actually went up.

While Wendy’s and Sonic were each able to reduce the sodium on 50% of their surveyed meals, increases in other menu items resulted in a net increases in sodium of 2.7% and 1.3%, respectively.

But that was nothing compared to KFC, which only reduced sodium on 14% of one of its seven meals in the CSPI survey. While the reduction for that particular meal was significant (22%), four of the six other meals had double-digit percentage increases in sodium, resulting in a whopping 12.4% net sodium increase for the chicken chain.

The biggest single meal sodium increase also came from KFC, where the kids’ meal with a grilled chicken drumstick, corn on the cob, string cheese, and Capri Sun juice drink resulted in a 52% increase from the 2009 version of the meal. The not-horrible news is that the sodium level for this meal is still under the 1,200mg daily intake figure recommended for children.

The FDA puts no limits on sodium content in food, which some public health advocates believe is a mistake. The CSPI points to the restaurant industry’s slow and inconsistent efforts to reduce sodium as evidence that regulation is needed.

“For far too long, the FDA has relied on a voluntary, wait-and-see approach when it comes to reducing sodium in packaged and restaurant food,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “If chains like KFC, Jack in the Box, and Red Lobster are actually raising sodium levels in some meals, FDA’s current approach clearly isn’t working.”

According to this fascinating survey, You can consume an entire day’s worth of sodium in one KFC fast food meal. That’s just too much for FoodFacts.com. And it should be too much for millions of consumers as well. We’re not exactly sure how many of those millions think to find out about the sodium content of their food choices at KFC before they sit down for their meal. We are pretty certain that all of them leave much thirstier than they were before they walked through the doors — not to mention a higher risk for a whole host of health issues.

http://consumerist.com/2014/07/02/while-other-restaurant-chains-cut-down-on-sodium-kfc-meals-have-been-getting-saltier/

Too much salt = aging cells in obese teens

salt.jpgWe’re always hearing about the negative effects of high salt intake. Too much sodium in our diets has been linked to higher risk of stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancers. Yet, it’s difficult for many people to avoid. Considering the idea that most of the sodium we consume is as a result of processed foods and not the salt shakers at our kitchen tables, the only way we can confidently reduce our sodium intake is to prepare our meals at home from scratch. And that’s something that becomes even more challenging when we focus on teenagers, who are out and about and generally eat their way through the day outside of our kitchens. Concerns about what high levels of sodium mean for overweight and obese teens are just now coming to light.

In a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014, researchers found that overweight teenagers who consume too much salt exhibit signs of faster cell aging.

In their study, the researchers divided 766 subjects, who were between 14 and 18-years old, into two groups based on whether they consume more than 4,100 mg of salt a day or less than 2,400 mg of salt a day. The subjects in both groups notably consume more than the American Heart Association’s recommended 1,500 mg of salt serving per day.

The researchers observed that the protective ends of the chromosome called telomeres, which naturally shorten with age, were much shorter in overweight and obese subjects with high salt intake but not in teens with normal weight but high salt intake.

“Even in these relatively healthy young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular aging,” said study lead author Haidong Zhu, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia.

Zhu said that overweight teenagers who want to reduce their risk of heart disease should consider reducing their salt intake and this may even be easier than losing weight.

“Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease,” Zhu said. “Lowering sodium intake may be an easier first step than losing weight for overweight young people who want to lower their risk of heart disease.”

Zhu also pointed out that most of the salt in the diet comes from processed food and urged parents to prepare fresh and healthier foods more often.

“The majority of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, so parents can help by cooking fresh meals more often and by offering fresh fruit rather than potato chips for a snack,” Zhu said.

Encouraging teens to eat real food can be a challenge. Certainly it’s good advice to cook fresh meals as often as possible. Yet, even parents who prepare meals from scratch every day face the issue that teenagers are spending less time in the home than they did when they were younger. FoodFacts.com likes the idea of choosing a variety of healthier snacks for the home, in hopes of finding a few that teens can seek out when they’re outside the home. It may help us help them to make healthier choices when we’re not there to guide them.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/4648/20140321/high-intake-of-salt-in-obese-teens-causes-cells-to-age-faster-study.htm