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Bread and Other Common Foods Top List of Sodium Culprits

CDC Study: About 90% of Us Get Too Much Sodium
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 7, 2012 -- About 90% of us get too much sodium every day, and most of it comes from common restaurant or grocery store items, the CDC reports. The No. 1 culprit? Bread and rolls.

Ten foods are responsible for 44% of all of the sodium we get. These include:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Luncheon meats such as deli ham and turkey
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Soups
  • Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
  • Cheese
  • Pasta dishes
  • Meat dishes
  • Snack foods including chips, pretzels, and popcorn

Too much sodium can contribute to elevations in blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The average person gets about 3,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, not counting salt added at the table. The U.S. dietary guidelines call for less than 2,300 mg of salt per day. The amount is even lower -- 1,500 mg per day -- for people aged 51 and older, African-Americans, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.

Slashing the sodium intake of these 10 foods by 25% would lower the amount of sodium in our diets by 10% and could help prevent up to 28,000 deaths a year, says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in a news release.

Some manufacturers are taking the lead, he says. For example, “Kraft Foods has committed to an average 10% reduction of sodium in their products over a two year period, and dozens of companies have joined a national initiative to reduce sodium,” he says. “The leading supplier of cheese for pizza, Leprino Foods, is actively working on providing customers and consumers with healthier options.”

The findings appear online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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