A government research found that it is very hard for Americans to find healthful food in U.S. grocery stores.

The findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that fewer than half of packaged products that are for sale in almost every grocery-store in the country met Food and Drug Administration requirements for being considered as a “healthy” food.

The results of the study were published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The new data may offer an explanation on why more than 90 percent of Americans consume more salt than recommended.

According to the FDA, more than 70 percent of pizzas, meat mixed dishes and pasta mixed dishes and 50 percent to 70 percent of sandwiches, soups or cold cuts exceed the standards for sodium. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of breads, cheeses and snacks have been found to contain more salt than required.

“More than 70 percent of pizzas, pasta mixed dishes, and meat mixed dishes and 50 percent to 70 percent of cold cuts, soups, and sandwiches exceeded FDA ‘healthy’ labeling standards for sodium, whereas less than 10 percent of breads, savory snacks, and cheeses did,”

Linda Schieb, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her team researched regional differences across the U.S. in sodium level of foods. Sodium content is a good marker for finding which foods are unhealthy, but is not the only one, sugar content or fat levels are also very important.

“Generally, if you look at the sodium content, it does give you a good indication of how healthy the food would be,” Schieb explained.

The group found out that wherever you live, grocery stores are filled with unhealthy foods, while Americans are buying most of the unhealthful options. The researchers compared all sales in 2009 from grocery stores in three U.S. regions: the South Atlantic, the Pacific and East North Central. In all three division, more than half of products sold exceeded the sodium conditions for healthy foods.

The FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture want to get Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables and less fat, sugar and sodium.

The American Heart Association added that people should eat 2,300 milligrams of salt or less every day, but this target is almost impossible to reach in the United States. The main reason is because almost all foods have high levels of sodium.

Image Source: Slate