The FDA Has Recommended New Salt Guidelines—Here’s What to Know
For years, public health officials have been warning that Americans consume too much salt every day. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to take action on this.
The US Food and Drug Administration issued new draft guidelines on Wednesday, specifically designed to reduce the amount of sodium Americans consume when eating out or packaging or preparing food at home. These recommendations are voluntary and aim to reduce the average daily sodium intake by 12% in the next 2.5 years. how? By asking food companies and restaurants to reduce the amount of salt they use.
The idea here is that when Americans eat out or incorporate packaged or prepared foods into their diets at home, they consume most of their sodium in their diets. If companies follow these recommendations, the average daily sodium intake will decrease. To reduce it by 12%, their goal is to reduce the average daily amount of salt that Americans eat from 3,400 mg to 3,000 mg. It is worth noting that the US Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.
The FDA pointed out that excessive sodium intake is related to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, which is the main cause of heart attack and stroke. According to a 2017 study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the study found that about 70% of our sodium intake comes from eating out or processing and packaging food.
The American Heart Association (AHA) praised the new guidelines in a press release on Wednesday, but said it was “not enough” to solve the sodium problem facing the country.
“Although educating the public about the consequences of excessive sodium intake is a valuable tool, due to the high sodium content in the food supply, this is not enough to truly affect the health of consumers,” AHA said. “The adoption of these goals will be a key step in helping countless people across the country reduce their sodium intake.”
The AHA stated that the FDA’s goal “represents an important step forward, but reducing sodium intake to 3,000 mg per day is not enough. A further reduction in sodium to 2,300 mg can prevent an estimated 450,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, resulting in 200 10,000 years of quality-adjusted life, and save approximately US$40 billion in health care costs over a 20-year period.” The AHA concludes with this statement: “We urge the FDA to follow today’s actions and set additional targets to further reduce food supply Sodium content and help American people get proper sodium intake.”
Nutritionists also said that the new guidelines are good, but agree that they can go further. Scott Keatley, MD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, told Health that the guidelines are good “for now.”
Kitley said, “Based on the national incidence of hypertension, recommendations for reducing sodium in the diet are needed.” He added, “Most people don’t sit at home and add piles of salt to their food—usually from restaurants and packaged foods. The goal of reducing these sources of salt is a big step in the right direction.”
Keri Gans, MS, RD, the author of The Small Change Diet, told Health that the new guideline “makes sense” and added that it “better fits” the Americans’ recommended dietary guidelines of 2,300 mg or less sodium per day . “Since so many Americans consume sodium from packaged foods and commercial preparations, this is definitely a good starting point,” she said.
Gans emphasized that this is a “good start” and will help push Americans in the right direction. “Ordinary consumers are accustomed to the taste of savory food, so gradual changes may be more acceptable,” she said. Kateley agreed. “Have you ever eaten ordinary popcorn? Compared to salty popcorn, it is not very tasty,” he said. “We are used to a lot of salt, so taking it all immediately is a good way to get people against you. The gradual reduction over time will make people’s taste accustomed to this change.”
Gans also added: “In the end, it would be great if the recommendation is not voluntary, but mandatory.”