New Government Guidelines For Sodium Consumption - Life ... It's Why We Cook. Blog at - 220357

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New Government Guidelines for Sodium Consumption 
Jan. 31, 2011 10:09 am 
Updated: Feb. 2, 2012 9:35 am
Baking Nana had a post about sodium and our diets. (Diets meaning the food we eat- not an action to lose weight.) I was very interested in that post because it was one affirmative to my less to no sodium diet that several have attempted to ridicule while only a few could agree with me. I remember one commenter on her post that said there was no harm associated with salt. This reprint will substantiate what Baking Nana and most others were relating.

I find it interesting that the release does not relate any difference between salt and other sodium.
This news brief was taken from on 01/31/11. For those that don’t want to read the entire post, I have added bold type to the most important points but reading the entire article will make the best sense. I have made no other changes to it.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is telling half of the U.S. population to drastically cut their daily salt intake.

That's the advice to consumers — and the food industry — as the government issues new dietary guidelines, which are the recommendations behind the popular food pyramid.
For the first time, the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments, which issue the guidelines every five years, are telling people who are 51 and older, all African-Americans and anyone suffering from hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease to reduce daily sodium intake to little more than half a teaspoon. That group includes about half of the population and those who are most at risk of having higher blood pressure due to sodium intake. For everyone else, the government continues to recommend about a teaspoon a day — 2,300 milligrams, or about one-third less than the average person usually consumes.

  The assault on salt is aimed strongly at the food industry, which is responsible for the majority of sodium most people consume. Most salt intake doesn't come from the shaker on the table; it's hidden in foods such as breads, chicken and pasta.

It has long been known that too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and other problems. But cutting the salt won't be easy. The prestigious Institute of Medicine has said it could take years for consumers to get used to the taste of a lower-salt diet. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the government is trying to be realistic while targeting the highest-risk groups.
"I think it's important for us to do this in a way that doesn't create an immediate backlash," he said. "If we fail to get our arms around the obesity epidemic, especially in our children, we're going to see a significant increase in health care costs over time."

Several large food companies have already introduced initiatives to cut sodium and introduced low-sodium alternatives, but it's unclear if the industry will be able to cut enough to satisfy the new guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration has said it will pressure companies to take voluntary action before it moves to regulate salt intake.

Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, said food companies will have to make cuts for the reductions to work.

"Even the most motivated consumer can make only a certain amount of progress before it's clear that we need extra support from the food industry," Koh said.

Consumers still have some control. To reduce the risk of disease from high sodium intake, the guidelines say people should:
—Read nutrition labels closely and buy items labeled low in sodium.
—Use little or no salt when cooking or eating.
—Consume more fresh or home-prepared foods and fewer processed foods, so they know exactly what they are eating.
—Ask that salt not be added to foods at restaurants.
—Gradually reduce sodium intake over time to get used to the taste.

Other recommendations in the guidelines are similar to previous years — limit trans fats, reduce calorie intake from solid fats and added sugars, eat fewer refined grains and more whole grains, consume less than 300 mg per day of cholesterol. The guidelines also recommend eating less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats — full-fat cheese and fatty meats, for example. The government promotes these guidelines to consumers by using a symbolic pyramid. Introduced more than five years ago, it doesn't specify recommended amounts of foods but directs people to a USDA website that details the guidelines. That replaced an old pyramid that specified what to eat after surveys showed that few people followed it.

Vilsack said USDA may come out with a new icon, but that won't be for a few more months. For now, the government wants consumers to focus on the guidelines themselves.
He says the recommendations — coupled with efforts from industry and other government campaigns for healthy eating, such as first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative — should bring about some change in the country's diet.
"I don't think it necessarily has to take a generation or two to see some progress," he said.
USDA food pyramid:
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion:
Jan. 31, 2011 10:51 am
Thanks, Mike! I heard this on the news today, but it didn't give any details. This is very helpful!
Jan. 31, 2011 11:54 am
Thanks so much Mike. This is good news! BTW - while reading labels I noticed that Swanson Low Sodium Chicken broth (33% less sodium) has 570 mg sodium per cup while Pacific Natural Foods free range Chicken Broth (not 'low sodium') also has 570 mg of sodium per cup. So a label that says, REDUCED SODIUM - isn't a good guideline. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Jan. 31, 2011 12:34 pm
Good info! Thanks Mike. Jeez, ya really gotta be on your toes! Pays to read several labels to compare. I spend more time reading labels in the grocery store than I do my books at home!
Jan. 31, 2011 12:46 pm
Thank you, Mike! My son-in-law is the one in our family who needs to drastically cut his sodium intake. He salts everything - and I mean everything! From pizza, to a buttered roll. He has made some progress over the past 2 years, though (that's how long he's been married to my daughter). She has forced him to cut back. It's a long, slow process to wean away from the salt, but he's actually lost about 20 pounds just by cutting the sodium.
Jan. 31, 2011 1:18 pm
I am so thankful that I learned to feed my family an extremely low sodium diet in the 70s. My father was living with us and had health issues. I learned how to make food flavorful with herbs and spices. It is my understanding the body processes all sodium the same way, although I may be misinformed on that point. Thanks for bringing this to our attention - it is so important.
Jan. 31, 2011 1:59 pm
About 18 years ago I changed my diet. It did take time for my taste buds to adjust! I started growing my own herbs and I am STILL learning to use them all but they have helped with my goal of a better diet. DH and I just did a roundtrip to Texas, leaving Friday morning and returning Sat. evening. We ate out each meal. BLECH!!!! The salt, the portions sizes(I don't need a can of refried beans or 3 cups of rice to round out my meal), the fat and the preservatives about did us in but I didn't have time to do anything different. The trip was worth getting my puppy but by golly we were glad to get home to "Cat's Cafe" :) Good blog again!
Jan. 31, 2011 4:24 pm
Hi, Nurse Ellen! This is important for our new eating lifestyle. I was able to show my wife that I haven't been blowing my breath into the wind.
Jan. 31, 2011 4:39 pm
I refuse to buy anything that says it is "lower sodium". The levels of sodium are still high. I looked at the Swanson broths in our cupboard. The beef broth was labeled as 440 mg (18%) and the vegetable broth was labeled as 940 mg (39%). The serving size is one cup. I'm over 51 and have high blood pressure. So, if I make a soup using a can of the vegetable broth, I've had an excess of my Daily Allowance- disregarding any other food for the day. That's under the former guidelines.Fortunately, I'm making our own vegetable broth so all that in the cupboard will be given away. As for beef and chicken broths, I make that as needed. The nutrition label is the best guide.
Jan. 31, 2011 4:43 pm
Hi, Jan! Label reading is becoming less for us as we learn what foods or brands to avoid. Canned foods vary so much in sodium that we continue to read those labels.
Jan. 31, 2011 4:48 pm
Good evening, Mother Ann! When I was in my 20"s I had a death wish with salt- especially on popcorn. One time I was able to get a few pounds of the yellow salt theaters used to put on popcorn. It lasted less than two months! Maybe it's a young buck thing?
Jan. 31, 2011 4:54 pm
Good evening, BigShotsMom! It was just a few years ago that we became serious about getting our sodium as close as possible to zero. I was told by my doctor to get on the program. My wife has the same doctor and he told her she may as well join me and avoid the problem I have. His advice didn't come soon enough for me because two months later, I had that stroke. Maybe he saved my wife and that is OK.
Jan. 31, 2011 4:57 pm
Hi, Cat! My taste buds are so far off normal, right now, that some food tastes salty when there is no salt in it. Are you gonna write a post about your new fur Baby?
Jan. 31, 2011 7:01 pm
While at the Dollar Store Friday, I wandered down the food aisle. There on the shelf was boxed Stocks and Broths. Since we make lots of soup, I thought, "WOW!" Cheap! But, I always check out the sodium content, so when I picked up the box of chicken stock to read the lable, I discoved it contained 970 mg of sodium. I couldn't put it back on the shelf fast enough. A "cheap" trip to a heart attack just isn't worth it!
Feb. 1, 2011 4:37 am
Hi, Candice! I'm sure the company that made that broth is counting on people buying their product just because it is cheap. I'm curious to know if it was real chicken or artificial flavor. The dollar stores have a place but their buyers should be far more careful when buying food items. I have seen some nasty foods and unsafe items on their shelves. They don't seem to feel a responsibility to their customers beyond providing something cheaply.
Feb. 1, 2011 4:53 am
Great information, Mike. I've found that once one reduces salt intake and gets away from pre-packaged foods, tastebuds come to life and one can notice the subtle flavors of foods. Of course you are an exception right now and I do hope your sense of taste is returning at any rate.
Feb. 1, 2011 9:03 am
Mike, you are so right. I buy lots of things at the dollar store; mostly things like tin foil, plastic wrap, food storage (give-away) containers, gift wrap, etc. I've never purchased food there, and was completely blown away by that chicken stock package. Unfortunately, in this economy there are folks who are buying this "cheap" and unhealthy food to put on their tables. Wow, what a wake up call!
Feb. 1, 2011 1:29 pm
I've thought about it. He is so cute! I was thinking about your blog today and what a dietician told me as she toured my friend through HyVee. He'd suffered a heart attack and her goal was to show him better food choices. I think it was Prego that did this. They can put "lower sodium" on their jar simply because it sits next to the full strength regular spaghetti sauce. Both were WAY over the recommended sodium levels. It was also my friend's wife who offered salt for my tomatoes at a picnic and when I said "no, I watch my salt" She said "oh it's sea salt". You really got to read those labels!
Feb. 2, 2011 8:28 am
Thank you, Lace! I will agree with you 100%. We had stopped using salt except where we believed it necessary and we noticed our tasters were far more awake. Thank you, also, for checking on my current status. The tasters have returned close to what I remember. Some foods,such as cheddar, taste fine when I begin to eat but after a while the taste starts deteriorating. Choclate depends on its quality. I can eat the milk chocolate without problem. When I get into the darker (more healthy) chocolate it tastes horrible!
Feb. 2, 2011 8:33 am
Candice, I find it a mindless "service" to the disadvantaged to offer what should be a trustworthy product. If it is done intentionally, which I hope not, then a warning should be issued about the store and its lack of scruples.
Feb. 2, 2011 8:36 am
Lower soium is an effort to disguise the truth. Sodium, in prepared food, does have it's place but when it is used in large quantities to enhance flavor then, I believe, the manufacturer has exceeded our trust.
Feb. 2, 2011 3:00 pm
You know Mike, I discovered that in home canning-salt is just added for flavor not preservation. It's hard to get those taste buds to adjust but it is worth the effort when it comes to cutting down on salt :)
Feb. 2, 2011 4:09 pm
That's true, Cat. But the quantities used are minimal to the RDA. One teaspoon per quart of vegetable broth is not bad. That is around 3% of the RDA. Even old fuddies (like me) can absorb that!
Mrs. C 
Feb. 2, 2012 9:35 am
Fantastic discussion! Thanks for the forum, Mike.
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About Me
At age 16, I began cooking when my mother was injured in an accident that kept her off her feet for five weeks. At first, my repertoire was fried hot dogs with pork and beans, boiled hot dogs with macaroni and cheese or pizza from a box. After a couple weeks of this, my younger brother was the first to protest and demand variety and my dad was quick to support him. That was my first cooking challenge, learning to plan a meal. About that time, mom returned from the hospital and from her bed, began teaching me things like roast beef, fried chicken, stews and all the sides and trimmings. In 1967, I married and my wife designated herself as the cook and this continued until 1999. It was then that I (voluntarily) began cooking again. At some point, I realized that I was having fun and began searching for recipes that were more challenging and interesting. I found AR and used it's recipes for a long time before registering and later becoming an active member.
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Soups. How can I go wrong? They are a great way to use up leftovers and those veggies that are approaching the end of their usefulness. They are always an original recipe. Roasts and steaks are favored, also. Getting the right "doneness" and choosing appropriate sides for a tastey and attractive meal is a continuing and always evolving menu.
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If creating impulsive menus and recipes is a tradition then, (I guess) we have a tradition. A new tradition is developing. I have a fruitcake recipe that, I believe, is near perfection. I make it just before Thanksgiving so it is aged enough for the Christmas/ New Year holidays.
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Without a doubt, my own recipe for a Reuben Sandwich. It has been a demanded item for many years and I shared it in my AR blog.
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Too many. I have been able to throw them out and have something new before my wife gets home. Most of the time, anyway.
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