Cooking - Home Food Fish Vegetable Fruit Meat - iStock - TanyaLovus

New reports outline need for healthier eating habits

© iStock - TanyaLovus
Edwin J. Viera

(Virginia News Connection) Two recent reports take aim at improving health across the United States and the world.

A report from the World Health Organization found that the world is off track to meet a global goal of reducing sodium intake. Every member state of the WHO pledged to reduce sodium intake by 30 percent by 2025, but only nine countries have adopted policies that will achieve that goal.

The WHO's Sodium Scorecard shows that the United States has policies in place to reduce sodium, albeit not to the organization's recommended levels.

Dr. Julie Chen, an internal-medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente, noted that people can check food packaging at the grocery store, and described low-sodium meal preparation options.

"Things like garlic, lemon," she said. "Many of the ingredients that are aromatic but do not contain sodium are good ways to flavor foods but decrease the salt content of the meal."

Chen added that canned and pre-packaged foods might have more sodium than people realize. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2020 to 2025 Dietary Guidelines, Americans should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, on average, Americans consume at least 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day.

Research from the American College of Cardiology found that low-carb, high-fat diets such as Keto are actually not as healthy as they might appear. Researchers found there's a causal relationship between going on these kinds of diets and having high levels of "bad" cholesterol, which can lead to a heightened risk of chest pain and heart attack.

Chen said healthy eating habits often don't start with food.

"The best diet to be on is one that the patient will stick with and have a better balance to ensure the patients are getting all the nutrients their bodies require," she said.

Chen recommended the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish or poultry instead of red meats. The Cleveland Clinic found that the diet can be great for improving heart health blood pressure.