Restaurant foods and commercially processed foods sold in stores accounted for about 70 percent of dietary sodium intake in a study in three U.S. regions, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.
Sodium is an important contributor to high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt. For nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults, the maximum sodium intake recommendation is even lower -- 1500 mg/day -- based on their age, race or ethnicity, or existing high blood pressure. Sodium can be difficult to avoid, especially when people eat a lot of processed food from grocery stores or restaurants. In fact, the average American adult consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day. To address this serious health threat, in 2010 the Institute of Medicine
recommended gradually decreasing sodium levels in commercially processed foods.
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