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Don’t pass the salt: Most kids are consuming too much sodium

While most people fear the dreaded “sugar,” “added sugars” or “high fructose corn syrup” when looking at food or ingredient labels these days, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 90 percent of U.S. kids 6-18 years old take in way too much salt. And there are pretty specific foods contributing to that high sodium intake.

Why does it matter?

High sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, which increases your risk for stroke and heart disease. In 2014, 1 in 6 kids 8-17 years old who were studied had raised blood pressure. Kids should be taking in fewer than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Right now, kids 6-18 years old are taking in an average of 3,300 mg per day! And that’s before any salt is added at the table!

Where’s all this salt coming from?

Over 40 percent of all the sodium kids eat come from these common culprits: Pizza, breads, cold cuts and cured meats, sandwiches (most common — cheeseburgers), snacks (chips), cheese, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, pasta-mixed dishes, Mexican-mixed dishes (burritos and tacos), and soup.

What do we do?

We’ve all been paying so much attention to sugars and fats that we’re forgetting the basics! Just remember, everything in moderation. Some suggestions:

  • When you’re cooking for the family at home, experiment with different herbs and spices instead of dousing foods with salt.
  • Emphasize a diet filled with fruits and veggies — automatically low-sodium foods!
  • Purchase low-sodium options for snack crackers, soups, sauces and gravy.
  • Keep other condiments available at the table instead of reaching for the salt.

The good news is that some help is on the way! The government plans to crack down on sodium levels in schools by the year 2022.