Dietary Guidelines (Lesson 1 Part D)

Sodium and Potassium Overview

The higher the intake of salt (sodium chloride), the higher the health risks for individuals. Higher salt intakes are linked with higher blood pressure; consequently decreasing salt reduces risk of high blood pressure. Nearly all Americans consume much more salt than they need, and many American adults develop hypertension.

It is important for Americans to make lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure and prevent or delay onset of high blood pressure. Ways to decrease the risk for high blood pressure would be:

Reduce salt intake
Increase potassium intake
Lose excess weight
Increase physical activity
Eat a healthy diet.

How are Americans getting so much sodium in their diet? Sources of dietary sodium includes:

Food processing – 77%
Naturally occurring – 12%
At the table – 6%
During cooking – 5%

Since so much salt is added in processed foods, it’s important to read labels to find out how much sodium a serving of food contains.

Benefits of Potassium

Some of the benefits of potassium include:

  • Blunts the effects of salt on blood pressure
  • May reduce the risk of developing kidney stones
  • Decrease bone loss with age

Key Recommendations for Sodium and Potassium

  • Consume less than 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Sodium and Potassium Key Recommendations for Specific Populations

Individuals with hypertension, blacks and middle-aged and older adults. Aim to consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.

Recommended Potassium Intake

The recommended intake of potassium:

* Adults and adolescents – 4700 mg/day
* Children
1 to 3 years – 3000 mg/day
4 to 8 years – 3800 mg/day
9 to 13 years – 4500 mg/day

Best food sources – leafy green vegetables, fruit from vines and root vegetables

Meat, milk and cereals – contain potassium but not as readily available as from fruits and vegetables.


The consumption of alcoholic beverages is harmful when consumed in excess. Drinking alcohol excessively can alter judgment, can lead to dependency or addiction and may cause other health problems such as: cirrhosis of the liver, inflammation of the pancreas and damage to the heart and brain.

Moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial health effects in some individuals:

  • Middle-aged and older adults – daily intake of 1 or 2 drinks associated with lowest all-cause mortality
  • Adults who consume 1 to 2 drinks daily – lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to non-drinkers

Younger adults have little, if any, health benefits and have a higher risk of traumatic injury and death.

Moderation in drinking alcoholic beverages would be:

Women – up to 1 drink/day
Men – up to 2 drinks/day
Amount – not an average but the amount consumed on any single day
12 fluid ounces of regular beer
5 fluid ounces of wine
1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Alcoholic Beverages Key Recommendations

  • Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation—defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol and those with specific medical conditions.
  • Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.

Food Safety Overview

An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the United States every year; of those, 5,000 die. Individuals should avoid foods contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, chemicals and physical contaminants to prevent foodborne illness. Microbial foodborne illness is the most important food safety problem (bacteria and viruses).

All those who handle food are responsible to keep food as safe as possible. To keep food safe it is important to:

  • Clean hands, food contact surfaces and fruits and vegetables
  • Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods
  • Cook foods to a safe internal temperature
  • Chill perishable food promptly and defrost food properly.

Food Safety and Handwashing

It is important to wash hands often, particularly before and after preparing food, especially raw meat, poultry or seafood

There are steps to washing hands properly:

1) Wet hands.
2) Apply soap.
3) Rub hands vigorously together for 20 seconds.
4) Rinse hands thoroughly under clean, running warm water.
5) Dry hands completely using a clean disposable or cloth towel.

Washing Fruits and Vegetables

A good method for washing fruits and vegetables is to remove and discard outer leaves, wash produce just before cooking or eating, wash produce under running potable water, scrubbing with a clean brush or hands and drying produce using a clean disposable or cloth towel.

Ready-to-eat, prewashed bagged produce can be used without further washing if kept refrigerated and used by the “use-by” date. Additionally, free moisture may promote microbial survival and growth. Dry produce if it will not be eaten or cooked right away.


To prevent cross-contamination, separate raw, cooked and read-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing or storing. Also, clean refrigerator surfaces thoroughly to prevent contamination from raw meats, poultry, fish, uncooked hot dogs, certain deli meats or raw vegetables to other stored foods

Cook to Recommended Temperatures

Raw meat, poultry and eggs should be cooked to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to tell if food is cooked to recommended internal temperature. Reheat leftover refrigerator foods to the proper internal temperature – 165 degrees F.

Temperature Rules for Food Safety

To keep food out of the temperature danger zone: 40 degrees to 140 degrees F. Set refrigerator temperature no higher than 40 degrees F. Set freezer at 0 degrees F.

Keep hot food in the oven, in heated chafing dishes, preheated steam table, warming trays or slow cookers. Use a food thermometer to ensure that cooked and cold foods are at proper temperature.

Temperature Danger Zone

Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Keep food out of the temperature danger zone to prevent foodborne illness.

Key Recommendations for Food Safety

The key recommendations are:

  • To avoid microbial foodborne illness.
  • Clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.
  • Separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing or storing foods.
  • Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms.
  • Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly.
  • Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts.

Dietary Guideline: FOOD SAFETY
Key recommendations for specific populations

  • Infants and young children pregnant women, older adults and those who are immunocompromised: Do not eat or drink raw (unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts.
  • *Pregnant women, older adults and those who are immunocompromised: Eat only certain deli meats and frankfurters that have been reheated to steaming hot.

*These individuals are at higher risk of developing listeriosis, a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium listeria monocytogenes. Some deli meats and frankfurters that have not be reheated to steaming hot and some ready-to-eat foods are associated with listeriosis and pose a high-risk to certain individuals. All these foods should be heated to a safe internal temperature.


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2/28/2005 10:33:04 PM
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