According to a report by the Washington Post, the Food and Drug Administration is planning to require food manufacturers to reduce the salt levels found in their processed foods. The initiative’s goal is to gradually reduce salt intake over the coming years, which would adjust our palate to a low sodium diet.
While officials have not determined the future salt limits, the Post’s source says that the FDA would analyze the salt in thousands of foods, including spaghetti sauces, breads, and beverages.
“This is a 10-year program,” says an anonymous source. “This is not rolling off a log. We’re talking about a comprehensive phase-down of a widely used ingredient. We’re talking about embedded tastes in a whole generation of people.”
Over the last 40 years, salt consumption in the U.S. has risen 50 percent, mainly because of an increase in processed food consumption and eating out at restaurants.
“Over time, we have adapted our taste buds and adapted our bodies to crave much, much higher levels of salt than we require to function,” says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
And it’s no wonder our salt consumption has exploded in the last few decades… food manufacturers have complete freedom to add as much sodium as they want to their foods.
Those days may be numbered.
While our bodies need some salt to regulate blood pressure and assist with muscle and nerve function, too much of it leads to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
And, it’s not like the changes have to be incredibly dramatic. A recent study at Columbia, Stanford, and the University of California at San Francisco found that cutting salt intake by just three grams a day could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks, strokes, and cases of heart disease.