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NewsBites January 2015 Issue

Sandwiches a Top Sodium Source

Dagwood Bumstead, the comic-strip character famed for his sandwiches, might want to check his blood pressure. A new analysis of national dietary data by USDA researchers reports that sandwiches account for one-fifth of average sodium intake, a key contributor to hypertension. Previous studies underestimated sandwich consumption because of the challenges posed by sandwiches’ many different ingredients; those analyses put sandwiches’ share of daily sodium at only 4%. By taking a novel approach to coding responses to dietary intake questionnaires, the new study was able to count multiple ingredients consumed as a sandwich, including both eating out or takeout and at home. Nearly half of Americans were found to eat a sandwich on any given day, and sandwich consumers averaged 600 milligrams more daily sodium. For adults, sandwiches alone added up to 30% of the recommended 2,300 milligrams daily maximum of sodium, and 46% of the stricter 1,500 milligrams guideline for those over 50. Sandwich eaters also ate an average 300 more calories daily.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers said the results “underscore the importance of making healthful choices of sandwich ingredients. 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.”

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