As someone who purchases organic food, you likely read labels carefully and watch your salt intake. The American Medical Association believes you’re on the right track, calling on consumers last week to limit their sodium consumption.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer of Americans,” says Dr. J. James Rohack, an AMA Board member and practicing cardiologist. “People who reduce dietary sodium intake are taking an important step in preventing future health problems. We hope these recommendations will encourage food manufacturers and restaurants to modify their current practices of adding unhealthy amounts of sodium to their products.”

Excess sodium greatly increases the chance of developing hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Research shows most Americans consume two to three times the amount of sodium that is healthy, with an estimated 75%–80% of daily intake coming from processed and restaurant foods.

“A serving of lasagna in a restaurant can put a diner over their recommended daily sodium allowance in just one meal,” Dr. Rohack says.

The AMA will:

  • Urge the Food and Drug Administration to revoke the “generally recognized as safe” status of salt and to develop regulatory measures to limit sodium in processed and restaurant foods
  • Call for a minimum 50% reduction in sodium in processed foods, fast food and restaurant meals, to be achieved over the next decade
  • Work with appropriate partners to educate consumers about the benefits of long-term, moderate reductions in sodium intake
  • Hold discussions with the FDA in an effort to improve labeling so consumers have a better understanding of how much sodium processed foods contain
  • Encourage the FDA to develop label markings and warnings for high-sodium foods