Most people have no idea how much salt they consume
By Tiffany Sharples
Submitted by MelindaBA
Over the years, Americans have become inured to salt. Most people have no idea how much salt they consume — on average, about 9 to 12 g (or 3,600 to 4,800 mg of sodium) per person per day, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). That's twice the amount recommended by the government.
In the past four decades, Americans' salt consumption has risen 50%, mostly as a result of eating more processed foods and more food prepared in restaurants. "Over time, we have adapted our taste buds and adapted our bodies to crave much, much higher levels of salt than we require to function," says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Some salt is crucial for good health, of course — to regulate blood pressure and assist with muscle and nerve function — but too much (that is, at the levels we currently consume) can lead to hypertension, heart disease and stroke. If Americans halved their salt intake, as many as 150,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year, according to the American Medical Association. And new research presented March 11 by Bibbins-Domingo at the AHA's annual conference shows that even small reductions — as little as 1 g of salt per day — could have dramatic effects, saving 200,000 lives over the course of a decade.
Using a sophisticated computer model to analyze trends in heart disease over time among U.S. adults, Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues discovered that incremental population-wide reductions could drastically improve public health.
Cutting out just 1 g of salt (or 40 mg of sodium) per person per day could prevent 30,000 cases of coronary heart disease across the U.S. population by 2019. Reducing consumption by half — a more sizable 6 grams — could prevent 1.4 million cases of heart disease during that same period.
Click here: Eating a Bit Less Salt Can Be a Big Health Boon - TIME