WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – New federal guidelines on sodium intake has Southerners feeling "salty." According to the Agricultural and Health & Human Services Departments, Americans need to drop their salt intake significantly in order to ward off health issues.
For people who are 51 or older, all African Americans and for anyone suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the new recommended intake is about half a teaspoon per day.
For everyone else, a single teaspoon.
In the South, where bar-b-que and soul food are standard fare, reducing sodium intake means changing entire menus.
"Salt is what makes us southern," exclaimed Wanda Price, the manager of Carolina BBQ on South College Road in Wilmington.
Research studies have long linked a high sodium intake to an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiac problems.
"Just about everything we do is bad for our heart now," grumbled Gene Swinson, a Carolina BBQ customer.
Tuesday, customers joked that a longer life would not be worth living if the food didn't taste good.
Manager Wanda Price also reminded that salt was the first ingredient in the ocean – the ocean being one of God's first creation – and therefore, a "sacred" seasoning.
"Check your Bible," joked Wanda.
Wanda also noted that the Bible calls for all things in moderation…
"We do keep that in consideration here at Carolina BBQ," said Wanda.
Before the federal government makes anymore guidelines that govern southern cooking, the people at Carolina BBQ recommend they do some extra research.
"They need to come on down and eat some southern cooking," said Wanda. "There's other ways to watch your diet."