Sunday, November 21, 2010

Take it with a grain of salt - but not more

Teens' salt intake double recommended amount: Study

By QMI Agency


The average teen takes in double the recommended amount of salt daily and a new study says decreasing that will prevent future health issues.

The report by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco says teens eat more than nine grams of salt (3,800 milligrams of sodium) every day.

This is more than any other age group and far above the 1,500 milligrams of sodium recommended as the maximum amount a person should have by the American Heart Association. Health Canada recommends between 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams daily.

The researchers said reducing a teenager's salt intake by three grams projected a 44% to 63% decrease in the number of hypertensive teenagers and young adults. They also said a decrease in salt intake would reduce high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke in adulthood.

Researchers noted about 80% of salt comes from processed or prepared foods — 35% of that in cereals, breads and pastries.

"The hidden places of salt in our diet are in breads and cereals, canned foods and condiments, and of course fast foods," lead author Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo said. "Most of the salt that we eat is not from our salt shaker, but salt that is already added in food that we eat."

Dropping those three grams would also mean teens would be eating the correct amount of sodium.

"Reducing the amount of salt that is already added to the food that we eat could mean that teenagers live many more years free of hypertension," Bibbins-Domingo said. "The additional benefit of lowering salt consumption early is that we can hopefully change the expectations of how food should taste, ideally to something slightly less salty."

Health Canada recommends people eat fresh, unprocessed foods to help reduce their sodium intake. It's also suggested people avoid adding salt to their food and ask for nutrition information to see how food is prepared.




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