USDA encourages lower sodium intake

By Zach Brictson

DeKALB | The government released new health guidelines including a call for Americans to consume less salt in their day to day lives.

According to the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HSS), the new dietary recommendation regarding sodium is that people over the age of 51, African Americans and those with existing high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should not consume more than 1500 mg of salt a day

For everyone else, including college students, the guidelines recommend 2300 mg a day.

“We don’t need 2300 mg a day,” said Beverly Henry, associate professor of Family, Consumer and Nutritional Sciences. “Our body doesn’t require it.”

Henry said salt can cause problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and chronic diseases as well as negatively affect quality of life and drive up the costs of health care.

Henry said that while salt is naturally high in some foods, it is often placed in others as a flavor enhancer that people can develop an acquired taste for.

“The more salt you eat, the more you need to taste it,” Henry said.

Brian Lesser, a senior economics major, said he’d put more responsibility on the food industry.

“However, the consumer should be responsible with what they consume from the start,” Lesser said.

Lesser said that people eating food with high amounts of sodium should not be surprised when their blood pressure is high.

Henry said the new guidelines for salt might serve as a motivator for some, but could also discourage others to give up at the same time.

Mike Gronli, senior anthropology and psychology major, said he doesn’t follow food pyramids or government guidelines.

“I think it’s important to learn about what is healthy and get a good idea of what we should be eating,” Gronli said. “But developing your own strict guidelines can make being healthy something unobtainable.”

A press release from the USDA said to start comparing sodium levels in food like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose the foods with lower numbers.

Henry said, anything you can see salt on is an obvious red flag. Some of her other tips include, to try out different spices and not to add salt to food at the table.

“We need to be honest with ourselves,” Henry said. “Every time you make a choice, think about the health benefits.”