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With the majority of Americans eating TWICE as much salt as they should on a regular
basis, the FDA just issued new guidelines for exactly how much of the evil white crystal you should consume daily. It’s not a one-size-fits-all rule.
Take a moment to… Read more

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Just last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new recommendations, urging Americans to reduce the amount of salt they consume.

Back in 2005, FDA officials set a target of no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of table salt) for healthy adults. For anyone with high blood pressure, or at high risk for developing it, the goal was set at 1,500 mg. Now the FDA says that even more of us need to cut back.

The new guidelines still encourage healthy adults to stick with the 2,300 daily mg rule, but they have expanded the scope of at-risk adults to also include those with chronic kidney disease or diabetes. For all of them, the 1,500 mg total is best.

One FDA source, as reported by The Washington Post, explained that this new effort is not simply “rolling off a log.” Rather, “we're talking about a comprehensive phase-down of a widely used ingredient. We're talking about embedded tastes in a whole generation of people."

Reiterating the fact that high-salt intake is linked to chronic health problems such as heart disease and stroke––the first and third-leading causes of death among Americans today––the FDA’s new efforts also warn that too much salt increases risk of osteoporosis and kidney stones. Some studies have even shown a relationship between a high-salt diet and stomach cancer.

In what is perhaps no coincidence, a separate investigation from the Institute of Medicine released findings the same day news broke of the FDA’s efforts: researchers found that, on average, Americans consume a whopping 3,500 mg of salt daily. According to a similar 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this nutritional indulgence alone puts almost 70% of us into a health-risk category. 

So far, no one has pinpointed the optimal daily sodium intake. Nor have researchers determined the lowest amount of salt we actually need. However, all data regarding the relationship between sodium and health would suggest that the less you consume, the healthier you’ll be. Here are two easy adjustments to consider…

Eat Out Less… Americans are eating out more than ever (which may be one reason more than 65% of us are now overweight or obese). According to a recent report by The Keystone Center, commissioned by the FDA, Americans spend about 46% of their food budget on food prepared away from home and take in 32% of their calories from restaurant or takeout food. And our most popular menu choices? A top favorite, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, weighs in at 730 mg of sodium. Most single orders of French fries contain 270 mg. The Taco Bell Bean Burrito has 1,270 mg and Dominos pizza costs you anywhere from 360-700 mg per slice. Tasty, but hardly healthy!

To help residents combat yummy mistakes, New York City began a partnership in January with its local city restaurants and food companies to lower the level of sodium used in the most common food choices, making it easier for people to eat out and control their health.

Eat More Fresh Food, Prepared at Home… One of the easiest ways you can reduce the salt in your diet is to cook healthy meals more regularly, using the freshest ingredients. Research indicates that home-cooked meals are typically lower in sodium than restaurant food. When grocery shopping, look for “lower-sodium” products, as well as fresh meat and vegetables rather than canned or processed alternatives. At home, season your food with herbs and spices rather than table salt. Rinse canned foods, such as tuna; and limit smoked or cured meat. And whenever possible, avoid “instant” foods, which almost always contain relatively high sodium levels.

Amazing-Health Tip: Try fresh squeezed lemon juice as a salt alternative. You can use it after an item has been cooked or with raw produce, to give food extra flavor. Lemon juice also acts as a natural preservative, so it can keep cut fruit fresher, longer. See our featured recipe, in which lemon juice substitutes for salt.




The Recipe Box
Green Beans & Heirloom Tomatoes

Green Beans &
Heirloom Tomatoes

■ ½ lb green beans

■ 1 cup heirloom tomatoes
■ ½ clove minced garlic

■ juice of 1 lemon

■ 1 tbsp olive oil

  1. Lightly sauté green beans in a large skillet along with minced garlic and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil for about 2 minutes.
  2. Season with pepper and add the tomatoes. Cook until just softened (about 1 minute).

  3. Stir in lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Then cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 3 more minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat and briefly stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.

Serves 4-6 as a hot side dish. Also great the next day, served cold!


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