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September 25, 2012

Study shows children's diets high in sodium

A recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reported that American children were eating roughly 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

That amount is almost 1,000 milligrams higher than the maximum recommended daily amount for a 2,000-calorie diet. This trend is also associated with children experiencing elevated blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart disease at an even younger age. Where is all of this salt coming from?

The study showed that the average intake of sodium for children was significantly elevated even in the diets of children who live in households that rarely use table salt. Simply keeping the salt off of the table would be a relatively easy change, but unfortunately, the problem stems from our eating habits and consumption of processed food. If you take a closer look at nutrition facts, it may be easier to see how this all adds up.

High-sodium choices are prevalent at restaurants as well as at home in the form of snacks and convenience foods. I find it hard to tell by taste alone if a food is actually high in sodium, as some very salty tasting foods, such as tortilla chips, usually have a lot less salt than a can of soup, for example. If the salt is mixed into the dish, the taste is harder to distinguish than salt on the outside of the food, so nutrition labeling is really the only way to determine how salty a dish really is. Pre-made, frozen breakfast sandwiches and similar creations usually contain more than 500 milligrams of sodium.

A pre-made, packaged lunch usually contains 500 to 800 milligrams of sodium, and a few have more than 1,000 milligrams per meal.

A one-cup serving of a canned pasta meal usually has about 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Most cans contain two servings.

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