New nutritional guidelines not tough enough on salt, target sugar instead

I aim for the 1,500 mg figure and so have changed my shopping and eating habits entirely in the past three years to get the salt out, finding low-salt ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa and even low-salt olives.

Anticipated U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines came out Thursday and, as I wrote last February, they let up a bit on salt concerns to focus on sugar as the worst of the evil three of salt, fat and sugar that we all eat too much of in the typical American diet.

“The average person eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, and the guidelines say everyone should lower that to 2,300, or about a teaspoon,” notes the New York Times report on the guidelines, which are issued every five years.

Salt gets off easy in the new dietary guidelines, too easy, I think.,
Salt gets off easy in the new dietary guidelines, too easy, I think.,

“Lowering sodium intake was the major push of the 2010 guidelines, and that document recommended that those most at risk of heart disease, or about half the population, lower their intake to 1,500 mg. The new guidelines delete that lower amount as part of the top recommendations. Later on, though, the report says those with high blood pressure and prehypertension could benefit from a steeper reduction,” the Times reports.

I aim for the 1,500 mg figure and so have changed my shopping and eating habits entirely in the past three years to get the salt out, finding low-salt ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa and even low-salt olives. Check my ingredients page for the full rundown.

Salt has a direct impact on water retention and blood pressure. I know it does for me which is why I target it above fat and sugar. I’m still a bit skeptical and confused about the emphasis on less sugar these days. I also think the distinction between added sugars, such as in sodas, and sugars in fruits, is a false one. Having grown up in a  family prone to diabetes I know the culprit has not been candy and cake as much as pastas and breads.

Lean meats got a pass in these guidelines, no doubt due to meat industry lobbying as the Times notes. I’m down to one day of red meat a week these days, normally the leanest I can find like a fillet mignon or 96% lean ground beef. I miss fattier meats like prime rib every day, but such is life after heart surgery.

Let me know your thoughts on the new guidelines.

John

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