As followers of our weekly new product reviews are well aware, I have been calling out brands that have high levels of sodium. And a new study, published in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension, reaffirms the need for widespread sodium reduction in the food supply and that other foods that we consume may not counter the harmful effect of sodium on our blood pressure.
Researchers reviewed data on sodium intake and intake of 80 nutrients, such as proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, that may relate to blood pressure in 4,680 women and men ages 40-59 throughout Japan, People's Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the United States participating in the Intermap study.
"Regularly consuming excessive amounts of sodium, derived mainly from commercially processed food products, is an important factor in the development of the elevated blood pressure patterns," wrote co-lead author Jeremiah Stamler. "To prevent and control the ongoing epidemic of prehypertension and hypertension, the salt content in the food supply must be reduced significantly."
About three-quarters of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods—not from the salt shaker when cooking or at the table. The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than one teaspoon of salt (2,300 milligrams sodium) total per day through all the foods they eat.
"We're learning more about the role other nutrients play in influencing the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium, and that the focus on sodium remains important," said Cheryl Anderson, vice chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee. "Restaurant and prepackaged food companies must be part of the solution because Americans desire the ability to choose foods that allow them to meet their sodium reduction goals."
Retailers should also be included—not just for their grocerant or prepared food offerings, but also to monitor those products that want to be on their shelves. Having a responsibility for the health and wellness of our shoppers is critical.