Restaurants offered the most sodium-dense foods in 2005-08

A chart showing the sodium density, by food source, years 2005 to 2008.

Intake data from the 2005-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reveal that Americans age 2 and older consumed an average of 3,085 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, higher than the current Federal recommendation of less than 2,300 mg per day. Home foods—those obtained at supermarkets, convenience stores, and other retail outlets—provided 68 percent of Americans’ daily calories and 64 percent of sodium intake. Foods purchased from restaurants with wait staff were the most sodium dense at 2,151 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories, followed by fast-food fare at 1,864 mg per 1,000 calories. Home foods had a lower sodium density than away from home foods. The data for this chart came from “Americans’ Food Choices at Home and Away: How Do They Compare With Recommendations?” in the February 2013 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

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