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Nutrition guidelines for school meals restricts sodium in kids diet

Posted on Jan 19, 2011 by Maggie LaBarbera

The proposed nutrition guidelines for school meals has been released and for the first time, it addresses sodium (sodium is found in table salt).

The plan calls for a  gradual reduction in sodium levels over the next decade to:

  1. 740 milligrams per lunch or less for high school students
  2. 710 milligrams or less for 6th - 8th grade
  3. 640 milligrams for kindergarten - 5th grade
This is important because many studies have been released that show that children are getting too much salt their diet.  Adults are often reminded to reduce their salt intake but we really never worried about "too much salt" in a child's diet.

But numerous studies have shown that kids are getting too much salt in their diet.  And studies that  have evaluated the school meal programs have also shown that children are getting well over the recommended amount.

Kids (and really all of us) need some sodium in our diet, it is an important nutrient.  But because we can "add it" during cooking or eating,it is easy to get too much.   Processed meats and processed foods tend to be very high in sodium also.

Americans tend to have a diet that is too high in sodium.  And that can be a problem for your child's health in the long term.

Studies have linked a high sodium (salt) diet with childhood obesity and higher blood pressure as adults.  Both high blood pressure and obesity can lead to heart disease.

So as there is now a movement to reduce sodium in school meals, it is a perfect time to also look at your food in the cupboards and fridge and begin to reduce the amount of salt in your family's diet.

Here are some foods that tend to be high in salt: (more than 400mg per serving - read the label)

  • Onion soup
  • Foods made with seasoned bread crumbs
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spaghetti sauce (ready to serve)
  • Potato salad
  • Cheese sauce
  • Baked beans with franks
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Pizza slice
  • Cheeseburgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, and many other fast foods
  • Beef stew (from a can)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Minestrone soup
  • Submarine sandwiches
  • Tunafish salad
  • Pretzels, potato chips, and other snacks
  • Sliced ham, bologna, salami and other cold cuts
  • Cream-style corn (from a can)
  • Pickles
  • Beef jerky snacks
  • Egg bagels
Read the food labels.  It is all there.  Have your children help.  You can make it a game "Find the foods with sodium 400mg + in the kitchen.

This is great way to start teaching kids healthy habits at a young age.


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