A new study shows most of packaged foods contain too much sodium. The research was conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to which packaged dishes like pasta, meat products and pizza all contain excessive amounts of sodium.
The report contains data regarding 3,876 products including sales and nutrition information.
Eating too much sodium (meaning products containing lots of salt) has been linked to an elevated risk of hypertension. The interesting thing is that the prevalence of hypertension varies according to U.S. geographical region. In order to understand the dissimilarity, the CDC decided to analyze whether there is a difference in sodium level in packaged foods depending on regions.
The team investigated three regions where almost half of the country’s population is living: South Atlantic, East North Central and Pacific. These area reported high, medium, and low prevalence of hypertension.
Researchers used the 2009 product-level point-of-sales Nielsen ScanTrack database to analyze popular products that make $ 2 million in annual sales. The purpose was to assess whether these products contained more sodium than the limit set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for products described as “healthy” on their labels.
In order for food to be considered “healthy” by the FDA, it must contain less than 600mg sodium per serving for meals and less than 480 mg per serving for individual foods.
The study found that the East North Central region presented high sodium levels in poultry foods, cheese and pasta and meat dishes. The South Atlantic region recorded high salt levels in cold cuts, pizza and sandwiches.
The general conclusion was that most of the analyzed foods contained more sodium than what the FDA recommends. More than 70 % of pizzas, pasta dishes and mixed meat dishes contained too much sodium for the FDA “healthy” labeling standard.
Furthermore, between 50 and 70 percent of packaged soups, sandwiches and cold cuts were found to contain excessive amounts of salt.
The authors reached a clear conclusion:
“Meeting sodium recommendations may be difficult in the current food environment.”
The FDA suggests consumers to watch out for “hidden” salt in purchased foods. Products low in sodium contain 5 % DV (120 mg) or less while those considered rich in sodium contain a 20 % DV (480 mg).
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