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Numbers Game: Answer

istock_000003017685xsmall-food-labelIn the past 40 years, average sodium intake in the United States increased 38 percent among among adult males and 57 percent among adult females.

Certainly a trend worth reversing (or, at the very least, not increasing).

Keep in mind that over three quarters of sodium in the US diet comes from packaged, processed food.  For most people, removing the salt shaker from the table does not take care of the actual issue.

People have not suddenly decided to oversalt their food over the past forty years.  However, consumption of frozen, canned, and shelf-stable products has skyrocketed faster than the popularity of the Jersey Shore cast.

This is a perfect example of why, when I am asked at a workshop or talk, for “the best dietary advice in one sentence”, my response is “eat as close to nature as possible.”

When your diet is composed of as much minimally processed food as possible, you automatically take care of many nutrition concerns at once.  You consume more fiber, a higher amount of minerals, a greater variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants, and slash your sodium intake.

Update: Shortly after this post went live, I received a tweet from @meredi, asking my opinion as to why women’s sodium intake has increased more than men’s.

My theory?  Over the past forty years — mainly the last twenty – the market for women’s lower-calorie foods (ie: frozen meals, snack bars, etc.) has grown much more than that for men.  Since most of these foods are highly processed, they contain significant amounts of sodium.

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