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CDC report details FDA's failure to curb dangerous sodium levels in American processed food

Sodium levels

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(NaturalNews) Many of us have a love/hate relationship with table salt. Too little and the food doesn't seem worth eating. Too much and the dish is ruined. Our bodies also have a love/hate relationship with salt. If we don't consume enough, we can develop hyponatremia, or low levels of sodium in the blood that may result in headaches, muscle spasms, seizures and even mental changes.

Now, if we consume too much salt, our risks for developing high blood pressure and other related heart problems increases.

Table salt is a combination of two elements -- sodium and chloride -- with the mixture being about 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. Each teaspoon of salt provides 2,000 milligrams of sodium.

More than 90 percent of adults consume more sodium than recommended

The recommended amount of sodium intake ranges from 1,500 milligrams to 2,300 milligrams per day, a recommendation exceeded by many Americans thanks to the daily consumption of processed foods and frequent dinners out at restaurants.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that 70 percent of pizza, meat mixed dishes and pasta mixed dishes exceed what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers "healthy" for sodium content.

To reach their results, researchers from the CDC analyzed product data from U.S. grocery stores in 52 markets in three of the nine U.S. census districts (South Atlantic, East North Central and Pacific) -- representing about 50 percent of the U.S. population.

More than half of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches bought in grocery stores contain unhealthy levels of salt

Products in 10 food categories were identified as contributing the most sodium to American diets. About 50 to 70 percent of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches exceeded FDA "healthy" labeling standards for sodium. This is because manufacturers tend to add more salt to foods sold in convenience stores and supermarkets to preserve their shelf life.

Less than 10 percent of breads, savory snacks and cheese contained unhealthy levels of sodium, according to the CDC. The study noted little difference in sodium levels between markets.

The CDC's recent investigation into sodium levels in processed food is an important one as the federal government prepares its "influential" Dietary Guidelines for 2015, which cover a variety of nutritional issues, including the effects of cholesterol, fat and sugar, reports TribLive.com. The guidelines also influence American menus and school lunches.

The consequences of overconsuming sodium

While the recommended "healthy" level of sodium is quite debatable among the medical community, it's absolutely agreed upon that too much or too little of this mineral can be harmful.

As Natural News reports, too much sodium in the diet may result in the following health risks:
  • Enlarged heart muscle
  • Strokes
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach cancer
  • Kidney stones
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
Consuming too much sodium can even influence physical characteristics. An excess of sodium may lead to bloating, puffiness and weight gain. Harvard's School of Public Health reports that those who are more at risk for developing health problems related to sodium over intake include:
  • People over the age of 50
  • People who have high or slightly elevated blood pressure
  • People with diabetes
  • African Americans
In order to maintain overall good health, it's important to monitor your sodium intake, which can be done rather easily by getting into the habit of checking labels, especially now that you know approximately how much sodium you should be eating. A diverse diet filled with fruits and veggies is the best way to moderate sodium intake.

"The majority of our sodium comes from restaurant food and processed food. So it's important to read the labels and choose lower sodium options. Make sure you are also eating fruits and vegetables," said study researcher Linda Schieb, an epidemiologist in the division of heart disease and stroke prevention at the CDC.

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