• Hi Bob, …. As an overweight diabetic on insulin for many years, This article was a good reminder for me, and should be of anyone with a few extra pounds to be aware of. Being on high blood presure medication, we all need a watchfull eye, as you stressed in class with processed foods and most all tastey soups, especialy those eaten in resturants that have a very high sodium content.

    From Ivan martin
    March 24, 2010

Wright from the Source: The evolution of sugar and sodium

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  When I started working for the public health department in the late 70’s, two of the major nutritional concerns at that time were the consequences of a diet with too much sugar and too much salt (sodium). Now over 30 years, thousands of nutrition and diet books, and an obesity crisis later, a report by the American Heart Association (AHA) and a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine confirm that they are still major concerns.


Published in November 2009, the report, Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association, indicates that sugar consumption has increased dramatically in the last 30 years, and that the consequences of excess sugar intake are much more serious than previously thought. We now consume an average 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar (355 calories) per day.  Added sugar includes agave, apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, table sugar, jellies and jams.  High sugar intake has been associated with numerous poor health conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic inflammation, and high triglycerides. The AHA recommends that we significantly reduce our sugar consumption by consuming no more than 100 calories (25 gram) of added sugar per day for women and 150 calories (38 grams) per day for men. That would be the equivalent of an 8oz. soft drink per day for women or 12 oz. for men. Soft drinks are by far and away the leading source of added sugars, but candy, cakes, cookies, fruit drinks sherbet, ice cream and sweetened cereal contribute as well.


Excess sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease, stroke kidney disease and dementia. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine predicted that a 30% reduction in sodium intake would result in the prevention of as many as 99,000 heart attacks and 66,000 strokes a year. Earlier research suggested that by cutting sodium intake by 50% would save 150,000 lives a year. Reducing the amount of salt used in home cooking and added at the table would certainly help, but it is not enough. 75% of our sodium intake comes from processed foods and restaurant foods.


If you hope to significantly your sodium intake you have to become a vigilant label reader. Look for lower sodium versions of your staples. When ordering at a restaurant ask for your servers help in identifying the lower sodium options or ask the chef to prepare meals with less sodium than usual. When you first cut back on sodium, foods may taste a bit bland, but that won’t last long. Within a month or two your taste buds will adapt, and you will learn to enjoy foods with less sodium. Help is on the way from the food industry as well. Several large food companies including Con Agra and Kraft have begun or soon will begin to reduce the sodium added to their products.


Read more for suggestions on how to reduce your sugar intake here.  For suggestions on reducing sodium intake read pages 16-20.

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