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Sandwiches are Responsible for High Dietary Sodium Consumption

Update Date: Oct 07, 2014 12:23 PM EDT

Statistics have revealed that many Americans consume too much salt. In a new study, researchers pinpointed one of the major contributors to the high dietary sodium intake: sandwiches.

For this study, the researchers from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the Food Surveys Research Group analyzed data gathered by the "What We Eat in America NHANES 2009-2010" survey. This federal survey collected information on people's dietary intake with the help of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Food and beverage consumption was categorized and coded based on its nutritional value.

The researchers focused on sandwiches and coded them based on the components that went into making one. Previous studies grouped sandwiches under one food code even though they can consist of varying ingredients. The team discovered that 49 percent of American adults aged 20 and older eat at least one sandwich on any given day. These sandwiches accounted for about 20 percent of total sodium intake.

The survey also revealed that people who ate sandwiches had a higher energy intake. The difference measured in kilocalories between people who ate sandwiches and those who did not was 300. The difference in sodium intake was 600 milligrams per day.

"The unanticipated finding that sandwich consumption is associated with higher overall intake of energy underscores the importance of making healthful choices of sandwich ingredients," stated co-author ARS nutritionist Cecilia Wilkinson Enns, MS, RD reported by Medical Xpress. "Many sandwiches, such as burgers and franks, and common sandwich components, such as yeast breads, cheese, and cured meats, are among the top contributors not only to sodium but also to energy in the diets of adult Americans."

She added, "Though much national attention is appropriately focused on reducing sodium in the food supply, consumer choices still play a vital role. Due to sandwiches' frequent consumption and considerable contributions to sodium intake, substituting lower-sodium for higher-sodium ingredients in sandwiches could significantly impact sodium intakes."

The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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