Scientists have long known that reducing sodium intake can lower a person's risk of heart disease and stroke. Now the FDA has proposed guidelines for the food industry to voluntarily lower the amount of sodium in packaged foods and in restaurant meals.
Americans consume about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, the equivalent of the amount of salt in about 34 servings of potato chips or in five slices of cheese pizza. That's well above the 1,500 mg sodium limit recommended by the American Heart Association for optimal heart health.
Consumers find it difficult to reduce salt intake because more than 75 percent of it comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods. To encourage the food industry to reduce the levels of sodium, the FDA will issue targets for a gradual reduction of sodium in processed and restaurant foods in about 150 categories over a 10-year period.
The FDA guidelines have been endorsed by the American Heart Association, which cites research estimates that reducing levels of sodium in the food supply could save more than 500,000 lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs in the United States in the next decade.