Salt Is No Friend to Heart or Head
Processed food is the single biggest source of salt in the American diet
Healthnotes Newswire (December 3, 2009)--When it comes to heart and vascular health, nearly everyone can benefit from eating less salt. Studies have long linked high salt diets to greater risk of high blood pressure, itself a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. But health experts aren't sure whether salty diets increase risk of these diseases in people without high blood pressure, and in those not as sensitive to the hypertensive effects of too much salt. New research provides some insight.
A process called meta-analysis was used to combine and analyze data from 13 previous studies. The advantage of this approach is that it allows for large numbers of people to be studied together, increasing the likelihood that relationships between dietary salt and risk of disease will be discovered, if they exist.
The study revealed that:
Salt vs. sodium
Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. In the US the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is given in terms of sodium, not salt. The maximum recommended intake of sodium is 2,300 mg (2.3 grams) per day. For certain groups--those who are 51 and older and those who are African American, or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should consume no more than 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) per day.
To convert grams of sodium into grams of salt, multiply by 2.5. This means 2.3 grams of sodium is the same as 5.8 grams (2.4 x 2.5) of salt.
Average salt intake in the US is 10-12 grams per day. This means most of us need to cut our salt intake in half to reduce our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
To reduce your salt intake:
(BMJ 2009; Online First Nov 24, 2009)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by The New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.