Better think twice before reaching for that salt shaker at dinner tonight.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to release new guidelines to reduce the amount of salt in grocery and restaurant foods. The FDA feels the current level of salt consumption is reaching unhealthy levels.
The FDA explains the goal of the new guidelines will be simple -- asking the food industry to lower sodium levels in an effort to reduce the number of Americans who die from heart disease and stroke each year.
"We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health," explained FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
The impetus for the new guidelines goes back to a 2010 Institute of Medicine report that found food companies weren't doing enough to make foods less salty. That group then advised the federal government to set maximum sodium levels for different foods.
The FDA claims a number of U.S. food makers and retailers are already engaging in the war against salt intake as Subway restaurants has reduced salt levels in its sandwiches by 30 percent, food retailer ConAgra claims it has made an across-the-board 20 percent salt cut in its products, and Wal-Mart is promising a 25 percent reduction in many of the items it sells by the beginning of 2015.
The FDA is proposing voluntary guidelines to encourage manufacturers to gradually lower salt levels in their products. That way, the companies have time to develop lower-sodium foods and consumer's taste buds will adjust to the lower sodium levels. There is no timelie yet for the release of the proposed standards.
Medical Daily.com recently listed its Top 6 Most Salty Foods:
1. Breads & Rolls - A single slice of white bread can contain anywhere between 80 to 230 milligrams of sodium.
2. Cold Cuts & Cured Meats - Six thin slices of deli meat can contain half of the daily recommended amount of sodium.
3. Pizza - A slice of pizza with topping can also contain half of the daily recommended amount of sodium.
4. Poultry - Based on preparation methods, poultry can be packed with high sodium levels.
5. Soup - A cup of canned soup can contain anywhere between 100 milligrams and 940 milligrams of sodium.
6. Sandwiches - The average sandwich or burger from any fast food restaurant can supply up 100 percent of our daily recommended sodium intake.