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Government report: Bread is top salt source in American diet

Bread and rolls account for more than twice as much sodium as salty junk food, according to a government report.

February 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A government report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found bread and rolls are the number-one source of salt in the American diet. Bread and rolls account for more than twice as much sodium as salty junk food, according to the report.

The report lists the top 10 source of sodium in American diets. Salty snacks were at the bottom of the list.

"Potato chips, pretzels, and popcorn - which we think of as the saltiest foods in our diet - are only No. 10," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

According to the CDC, breads and rolls account for about 7 percent of the salt that the average American eats in a day. Next on the list: cold cuts and cured meats; pizza; fresh and processed poultry; soups; fast-food hamburgers and sandwiches and cheese.

Rounding out the list and accounting for about 3 percent each are spaghetti and other pasta dishes; meatloaf and other meat dishes and snacks like potato chips and pretzels.

One author of the CDC report noted that breads and rolls are not particularly saltier than other foods, but that people eat a lot more of them.

CDC officials were amazed that just 10 foods are responsible for 44 percent of the sodium consumed. Sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of stroke and heart disease, according to scientists.

Dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, equal to about a teaspoon of salt. Certain people, such as those with high blood pressure, should eat even less. But average sodium consumption in the U.S. is around 3,300 milligrams, the CDC study found. Only 1 in 10 Americans meet the teaspoon guideline.

The new CDC report is based on surveys of more than 7,200 people in 2007 and 2008, including nearly 3,000 children. Participants were surveyed twice, each time answering detailed questions about what they had eaten over the previous day. Researchers then broke down what they ate into categories, and assigned sodium amounts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.