According to the American Heart Association, roughly 90% of Americans are overdoing it on salt, consuming over twice the daily recommended amount. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced recently it was proposing a rule to allow the use of salt substitutes in everyday foods including cheese, frozen peas and canned tuna, in a bid to cut Americans' salt consumption. The issued proposal seeks to change the FDA's "standards of identity" (SOI) for foods that include salt. Will this step help to improve heart health and nutrition? 

Dr. Sotiria Everett, EdD, RD, CDN, CSSDClinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine's Nutrition Division at Stony Brook Medicine, says "Salt substitutes may reduce the sodium content of processed foods, but that may not improve the nutrient quality. A high sodium content is one factor that links packaged foods, or processed foods, to disease. There is growing evidence that diets high in processed foods are linked to several chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, because of added sodium, sugar, and often not enough fiber and healthful nutrients. Therefore, the primary message should be to reduce the consumption of processed foods."

Dr. Everett adds, "The best way to reduce sodium, is to limit the intake of packaged foods, which are often highly processed. If individuals are eating several packaged foods a day, they should consider swapping them for more whole foods. For example, instead of snacking on packaged chips, I would recommend raw almonds and a fruit."

Another way to control salt is eating out less often. "Eating out very often may also contribute to too much sodium in the diet. While many people go out to eat because they have limited time to cook, some basic strategies such as doubling recipes or meal planning can lead to fewer meals from restaurants and fast food chains," Dr. Everett said. 

Interviews with Dr. Sotiria Everett from Stony Brook Medicine can be conducted by phone, Zoom or via email.