New FDA guidelines aimed at reducing the level of sodium that food companies and restaurants put in their fare can’t come soon enough for one New York nutrition expert.
“This is a long time coming,” said Nancy Copperman, a registered dietitian and corporate director of Public Health Initiatives for the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “Much of the sodium that we eat is hidden in foods, and we don’t realize how much we get from just the processed foods that we buy,”
She added that while national chain restaurants often provide nutrition information about their offerings, finding out how much sodium is in a dish at your local diner or restaurant can be difficult.
On average, Americans consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day – 33% more than the FDA’s recommended intake and 50% more than what the American Heart Association advises. Such unhealthy eating habits increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
In addition to satisfying our taste buds, salt is used to preserve the shelf life of food, prevent bacteria growth and to improve the texture and appearance of food.
So what are some healthy alternatives to salt?
“There’s light salt, which is potassium chloride vs. sodium chloride,” said Ms. Copperman. “You can add fresh herbs, such as tarragon, dill, basil and cumin to give foods flavor, and you can also use lemon for seasoning.”
The FDA has not set a date for implementing the guidelines, which will be voluntary.