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Bread contributes most sodium to US diets, finds CDC

By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 09-Feb-2012

Related topics: Cereals and bakery preparations, Flavors and colors, Preservatives and acidulants, Sodium reduction, Markets

Nine out of ten Americans eat too much sodium, and bread and rolls are the biggest problem, rather than salty snacks, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC found that 44% of US sodium consumption comes from ten types of food, with bread and rolls at the top of the list, contributing more than twice the sodium (7.4% of average dietary sodium intake) of snacks like pretzels and chips, which rounded out the list in tenth place, contributing 3.1%.

Cold cuts and cured meats were in second place behind bread, with a 5.1% contribution to average sodium intake, followed by pizza (4.9%), fresh and processed poultry (4.5%), soups (4.3%), sandwiches like cheeseburgers (4%), cheese (3.8%), pasta mixed dishes like spaghetti with meat sauce (3.3%), meat mixed dishes like meat loaf with tomato sauce (3.2%), and savory snacks (3.1%).

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) said that for years food companies have been introducing low- and no-sodium products, and incrementally reducing sodium in foods, while trying to maintain consumer taste preferences.

“While progress is being made, reducing sodium in products without affecting the taste or consumer acceptance of products is no easy task,” the trade association said in a statement.

“Research is needed to understand the unique sensory reception properties of sodium and salt and then apply that understanding to finding acceptable substitutes. In addition, salt and sodium play a vital role in food preservation; therefore, great care must be taken to ensure that changes do not compromise food safety.”

Based on self-reported data, the CDC said in this latest report that average intake is around 3,300mg each day, while the USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,300mg – and less than 1,500mg for people with hypertension, or those considered at risk of developing hypertension.

It said that reducing the average daily population sodium consumption by about one third could reduce blood pressure and decrease the incidence of heart attack and stroke, and save about $20bn in annual healthcare costs.

More information on CDC’s Vital Signs report is available online here .