Food and Drug Administration recommends lower sodium levels


By Jonny Lupsha, News Editor

Salty foods may soon be less salty, as the FDA has advised lower sodium levels overall. Reduced amounts of the common mineral can lead to lower rates of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. Sodium and potassium are high level electrolytes.

Usually, your body has many mechanisms to keep your blood sodium and potassium values ​​within a narrow and appropriate range. Photo by Ika Hilal / Shutterstock

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new guidelines for the food industry that encourage lower sodium levels. Specifically, it would mean reduced salts in condiments, cereals, fries, and potato chips. The majority of the sodium problem, according to the agency, is due to packaged foods and dining out, as opposed to the average table salt used to season meals at home.

He also recommended a gradual drop in sodium levels across the board to keep people from looking for higher sodium alternatives.

Why such a concern for salt when health experts generally focus on starches and sugars? In his video series Nutrition in the clear, Professor Roberta H. Anding, director of sports nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, explained that sodium and potassium counterbalance the electrolytes that play a major role in our diet.

Lean on sodium and potassium

“[Sodium and potassium] play a very important role in regulating the exchange of fluids in the compartments of the body, ”said Professor Anding. “As such, blood levels of these electrolytes are rarely affected by dietary means alone, and that should make sense. If they are so essential for it to function, your body must have many different defense mechanisms to keep sodium and potassium levels in the blood within a narrow range.

Sodium and potassium affect our blood pressure which is a huge factor in our health. Again, they counterbalance each other: sodium can raise our blood pressure, while potassium intake lowers it by lessening the effects of sodium. Potassium also reduces the risk of developing kidney stones and bone loss with age.

If sodium and potassium are antagonists in our body, what are their main functions? According to Professor Anding, we need it to regulate blood and other bodily fluids, to help nerves talk to each other, to stimulate muscle activity, to encourage healthy glands and heart activity, and more. Again.

Where we get our sodium

When the FDA recommended reducing sodium levels in pre-prepared foods rather than just using less table salt at home, it did so with good reason.

“Seventy-seven percent of the sodium we get comes from food processing,” Professor Anding said. “The more a food is processed – and I usually describe this as ‘the longer the list of ingredients, or the more hands touching it, the center of the grocery store’ – the more a food is processed, the more it will become. sodium content is high and, in general, the lower its potassium content. Twelve percent of sodium is naturally occurring, which means there is sodium naturally present in foods, not added by the manufacturer.

During this time, only 6% of the sodium we consume is added at the table, and the remaining 5% is added during the cooking process.

This means that when it comes to the amount of sodium in our diet, almost 13 times the amount comes from food processing compared to what we shake in a salt shaker while eating. Overall, food processing is responsible for seven times the sodium content of what is added at home, whether during cooking or at the table. So while it may be good to throw out table salt, the lion’s share of the problem has already happened by the time we pick up an item from the grocery store shelves.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, The Great Courses Daily


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