Study: US sodium intake double what doctors advise

Study: US sodium intake double what doctors advise


by Erica Heartquist

Bio | Email | Follow: @EricaHeartquist

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 10 at 4:24 PM

It's in bread, cheese, lunchmeat, soft drinks. The list goes on. We're talking about salt.

The American Heart Association released numbers Wednesday that showed Americans are eating twice as much sodium as we should be.

At the food carts along Fifth Avenue in downtown Portland Wednesday, food was on everyone's mind. Sodium, less so.

The lunch crowed was aware of how much salt was in their diet and said even they know it's bad for them. But the taste was worth it.

"I'm getting Thai food," said Cameron Ough of Portland.

"Probably a brunch box burger," said Portland resident Reno Brown.

"I have no idea what they're putting in it," said Don Thomson of Milwaukie.

Regretably, salt fits into the category of out of sight, out of mind, but still in body.

"Most Americans will think, 'Well, I just won't put salt on my food and therefore the problems gone.' But, it's really the processed food and that's why it's so important to read food labels," said Dr. James Beckerman, a cardiologist at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

On average, Americans eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. They should be getting 1,500 milligrams maximum, less than a teaspoon.

"Statistically about 80 percent of the salt that you take in is from processed food, it's not from your salt shaker," said Dr. Beckerman.

"I even put it in my coffee, it's true," said David Stephen Ball-Romney, visiting from Seattle, "It brings out a little bit of the flavor."

We asked Reno if he was going to ask the food cart chef making his food to use less salt.

"I'm not. I'm definitely not. It tastes good and I'm out here eating out and it's a treat," he said.

But, not everyone is pouring on the salt.

Pastini restaurant in downtown Portland already offers gluten-free pasta options. Now, kitchen manager Lowell Cantillo said more and more people are asking for "light salt" or "salt-free" dishes. "We make it basically from scratch to order, so whatever the customer wants we'll be happy to do it that way," said Cantillo.

Doctors said that's a smart way to order your food while thinking about what you're eating. The heart association said to focus on what they called the "salty six:" bread, lunch meat, pizza, poultry, soups and sandwiches.