February 9, 2011

New USDA Dietary Guidelines Criticized by the American Heart Association

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , at 11:13 am by keepyourhearthealthy

image shared from heart.org article


By law the US dietary guidelines have to be reviewed and updated every 5 years.  The newest guidelines came out last week with the intent of targeting an obese and hypertensive population.

The USDA guidelines are famous for their food pyramid but they also publish an updated report every 5 years.  This year they advised most Americans to cut the salt out of their diet.  Specifically they recommend reducing sodium intake to less than 2300mg per day OR 1500mg per day if you are, “51 and older,” “African American” or if you “have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.”  The guidelines go on to state that “the 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.”

If you know your dietary numbers, 1500mg of sodium per day is a tough number to stay under.  One typical fast food meal has more than 1500mg of sodium and most restaurant meals are well beyond the sodium limit as well.  The easiest way to stay under 1500mg of sodium in one day is to prepare your food at home and never use the salt shaker.

The American lifestyle makes this sodium goal a daunting task.  Yet the American Heart Association is holding the population to a higher standard and has outright criticized the Guidelines for not being strict enough.  They recommend all Americans should eat less than 1500mg of sodium per day…not just a select population.  Why?  According to the American Heart Association website, “High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.”  For those who want to learn more about sodium, the AHA website has a very simple, yet detailed, page dedicated to this diet obstacle: Sodium (Salt or Sodium Chloride).

July 3, 2010

Should Sodium Content in Food Be Regulated?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:49 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

An article on the AARP website (Mandate Salt Content in Processed Food, Sodium in Diet? – AARP Bulletin) has brought up some interesting points on the war against sodium.  According to their article, the FDA has stepped in to ask major food companies to lower their salt content.  Plus, the Department of Agriculture has recommended lowering the sodium intake dietary guidelines from 2300mg per day to 1500mg.  Currently 1500mg is the daily limit only for people with hypertension and heart failure.

Before I get into too much detail about the fight to reduce America’s sodium, let’s review why salt is bad.

  • Too much salt can cause high blood pressure in high risk people
  • Studies have shown that a high salt diet increases the risk of heart attack
  • Excess salt can cause worsening heart failure
  • Processed meats with high salt increase the risk of heart problems

Are there people who should have a high salt diet?  Believe it or not the answer is yes.  Some patients have problems with very low blood pressure and they can pass out if it gets too low.  This select group of patients can add salt to their food without much guilt.

For the rest of the population though, reducing salt is not harmful.  The easiest ways to avoid too much sodium is to cook at home using fresh or frozen ingredients.  Anything canned, fast food or processed will put your salt intake over the edge.  Our modern-day lives make it almost impossible to cook at home for every meal so why not urge the big food companies to lower their salt content?  I do not think it is necessary to force sodium limits but a nudge in the right direction seems beneficial for nearly all.  What do you think?  Vote in the poll and give us your opinion!