The FDA Suggests That Reducing Your Salt Consumption Could Literally be Life-Changing

The agency wants manufacturers to dramatically reduce the amount of salt put in certain foods.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance regarding the amount of salt in foods on October 13, suggesting that food manufacturers dramatically reduce the amount of salt in "commercially processed, packaged, and prepared foods" in the next two and a half years. This guidance is expected to affect more than 160 types of food sold at chain restaurants and in grocery stores.

According to the FDA, the average person consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, which is above the recommended amount of 2,300 milligrams per day for adults. An intake of too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and increased risk for more serious health problems. The FDA recommends cutting the average sodium intake down by 12% to about 3,000 milligrams per day.

Fortunately, the FDA isn't putting the responsibility of eating less salt entirely on us as individuals. The guidance is aimed at food manufacturers so that those producers can reduce sodium levels in some of our most commonly eaten foods. No companies are required to reduce the amount of salt in their products; the guidelines are suggestions. The FDA has implied that companies who follow the guidelines will be rewarded, but they haven't specified how.

"We recognize that cutting down on sodium in your diet is hard to do on your own because about 70% of the sodium we eat comes from processed, packaged and prepared foods," Susan Mayne, the director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition told NBC News.

Numerous public health groups have celebrated the new guidance, expressing that the FDA targeting producers instead of consumers will have a larger and more long-lasting impact.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.