Julie Toy | Stone | Images
The Food and Drug Administration is asking food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce salt in their products over the next 2.5 years with the goal of reducing Americans' overall sodium intake by 12%.
The vast recommendation , "announced Wednesday, should cover a wide variety of foods - from chain restaurant meals to processed foods on grocery store shelves and even baby food.
" What we'd like to see see if the food industry is gradually reducing the sodium content of more common foods, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA, told NBC News.
The goal, has said Woodcock, is reducing the rates of heart disease , the n ° 1 killer of the pays. Reducing sodium in the diet "would ultimately have a major impact on hypertension, heart disease and stroke," she said.
The dietary guidelines current recommendations that adults consume no more than 2 "300 milligrams of sodium per day . This equates to about a teaspoon of table salt.
But the average person in the United States consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day, according to the FDA .
Find out more about NBC News La "White House calls on states to prepare for Covid vaccination in young children The "patients reachedpeople with breast cancer use weed but don't tell doctors, study finds Most adults should not take aspirin daily to prevent heart attack, panel says
New recommendations aim to reduce that amount by 12%, at 3,000 mg per day, said Woodcock, which equates to consuming 60 teaspoons less salt per year.
Although that goal would not meet the 'Recommended daily intake of 2300 mg of sodium, external experts said counseling was a good first step for a high blood pressure, which affects nearly half of all American adults.
Wednesday 's action finalizes orientation "provisional l 'agency published in 2016 on how much salt companies should add to food; the food industry has largely ignored the ance guide.
The new recommendations are non-binding, which means companies are not required to make such reductions.
Says Woodcock The FDA will closely monitor the industry over the next several years, rewarding companies that comply. It was unclear what the rewards would be on Wednesday, and Woodcock did not say if the FDA would take action against companies that aren't cutting sodium.
But experts said the push federal government could increase the likelihood that most of the major manufacturers will indeed act.
Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, said: "The advantage of having the government set this objective and put the pressure on is that you have a better chance that everyone will make the changes. "
The guidelines will apply to over 160 categories of processed, packaged and prepared - like tomato sauce, dairy products and breakfast cereals - as well as meals f rom chain restaurants, Woodcock said. Different food categories will have different sodium target levels.
In a statement, the National Restaurant Association said it has worked with the FDA on the new guidelines and "continues to provide options to meet health wants and needs.
Public health experts overwhelmingly applauded the advice.
American Heart Association President Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones said it was about ' "An incredibly exciting moment " that should help people achieve sodium levels pread healthy in their diet. This in turn could reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, he said.
Dr. Peter Lurie, chairman of one of the foremost food industry watch groups, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, said the FDA guidelines would likely be " most effective intervention that the US government can undertake today. "
The CSPI has been pushing for " lower levels of added sodium in foods for decades. "While all natural foods contain small amounts of sodium," he wrote last month in a letter to the federal government, "more than 70 percent of the sodium the average American consumes comes from packaged and restaurant foods. "
In addition, much of the sodiumin a typical diet comes from foods that are not necessarily considered "salty", such as bread, spaghetti sauces and salad dressings.
"There is very little things the average consumer can do, "Lurie said. "The only way to have a significant impact on sodium intake is to put the blame on the industry.
Salt 'Effects on the body
Consuming too much salt is often associated with high blood pressure and heart problems.
But the consequences do not not start in the heart, Lloyd -Jones said, but rather the kidneys.
The main function of the kidneys is to filter waste and toxins from the blood and maintain an appropriate level of fluid in the body .
As more sodium is consumed, the kidneys are less able to get rid of the excess. As sodium accumulates, the kidneys become less efficient at debdraining the body of excess fluid, resulting in high blood pressure. When blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. This, in turn, increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
Elisabetta Politi, registered dietitian at Duke University Lifestyle & Weight Management Center, said that the new guidelines were "a good step in the right direction.
In his experience with clients, it only takes a few days for a person 's taste buds to develop. 'acclimatize to foods with much less sodium, she said.
Politi said that a week after starting her program, her clients balked at the salty taste of their previous meals. Plus, she said, her clients' blood pressure tended to drop within days of cutting out the salt.
"The data is clear, " Politi said. "Lives could be saved if we encourage people to eat less sodium.