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Five Important Facts About Sodium/Salt Intake

With food industry groups trying so hard to confuse the issue of sodium/saltintake, it is important to understand just how much sodium/salt the averageAmerican consumes and the serious ramifications that has on health. Let'sput it into perspective by looking at five key points.

1) What are healthful salt/sodium consumption levels?

The American Heart Association, Institute of Medicine, and the NationalAcademy of Science recommend keeping consumption less than 1500mg/day with a Tolerable Upper Limit of 2300 mg/day.

2) How much sodium/salt do people consume daily?

Surveys based on people's descriptions of what and how much they eatreport that, on average, Americans take in around 3500 mg of sodium eachday, which is more than one and a half times the recommended upper limit of2300 mg/day. But because people tend to underestimate how much they eatand how much salt they use, it is more likely that they take in over 6000mg/day, which is more than two and a half times the upper limit. Just checkout typical restaurant meals and packaged foods, and you will see how easyit is to take in that much. Regardless of whether we use the 3500 mg/day ora higher amount, over 99.4 percent of American adults consume more thanthe recommended 1500 mg/day, and 90.7 percent consume more than theTolerable Upper Limit of 2300 mg/day.

3) What are the health risks associated with excess sodium/saltconsumption?

Excess sodium/salt raises blood pressure (hypertension), which is anestablished risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Inaddition, excess sodium/salt consumption has been associated with stomachcancer, osteoporosis, edema, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, migraines,angina, left ventricular hypertrophy, arteriosclerosis, and autoimmuneproblems. It is estimated that 102,000 premature preventable deaths arecaused by excess salt consumption each year.

4) How many people could benefit from a reduction in sodium/salt intake?

About 31 percent of American adults have hypertension (high bloodpressure), and another 30 percent of American adults have prehypertension(blood pressure measurements that are higher than normal, but not yet in thehigh blood pressure range, raising the risk of developing high bloodpressure). So, 61 percent of Americans could most likely benefit, and thatdoesn't count all the people who have not yet developed hypertension orprehypertension. According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent ofall Americans are expected to develop high blood pressure during theirlifetime.

5) If salt causes hypertension, why does salt reduction fail to reducehypertension in some people?

Many people with hypertension think (or have been told) they are not "saltresponders" because they tried eating a "low-salt diet," and it did not lowertheir blood pressure. The most likely reason these people didn't get the resultthey wanted is that the diet they tried wasn't actually a low-salt diet. Mostpeople, including many physicians, do not know how to design a diet lowenough in sodium/salt because they don't realize where all the salt is comingfrom. Fortunately, once non-responders learn how to design a diet that isactually low in salt, most of them do respond and eventually get off theirmedications.

In Health



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