Study finds reason to cut sodium in sandwiches

by Jeff Gelski
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BELTSVILLE, MD. — In sandwiches, replacing ingredients higher in sodium with ingredients lower in sodium significantly could influence sodium intake because of the frequent consumption of sandwiches, according to a study appearing on-line Oct. 5 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The study found people who reported eating sandwiches on a specific day had significantly higher sodium and calorie intake than people who did not report eating sandwiches. Sodium density in the diet, or the percentage in a person’s diet, did not vary from people who ate sandwiches and people who did not. Many common sandwich ingredients such as bread, cold cuts and cheese contribute sodium to the diet, the study pointed out.

U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers from the Food Surveys Research Group in Beltsville examined one day of dietary intake from 5,762 adults age 20 and older by analyzing the What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-10. On the one day, 49% ate sandwiches with 54% of men reporting they ate sandwiches and 44% of women reporting they ate sandwiches.

Among those people who ate sandwiches, the sandwiches had mean contributions of 272 calories and 688 mg of sodium for the day. People who ate sandwiches had an overall mean calorie intake of 2,290 for the day and an overall mean sodium intake of 3,895 mg. People who did not report eating sandwiches had an overall mean calorie intake of 1,981 and an overall mean sodium intake of 3,296 mg.

“Regardless of sandwich reporting status, sodium density was approximately 1,700 to 1,800 mg per 1,000 calories, suggesting that the higher sodium levels of sandwich reporters are explained by their higher energy intake,” the researchers said.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend a daily limit of 2,300 mg of sodium for Americans in general and 1,500 mg for adults older than age 50, African Americans and people with diabetes, hypertension or chronic kidney disease.

The food industry may point to efforts to reduce sodium in products such as sandwiches. The average sodium level in a slice of bread has dropped to 180 mg from 254 mg in 1963, according to the American Bakers Association, Washington. A survey from the American Meat Institute, Washington, found more than 70% of its members were undertaking product reformulations to reduce sodium. The Cheese and Sodium Task Force of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, Rosemont, Ill., is investigating ways to decrease the amount of sodium added to cheese.
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