Monday, March 24, 2014

Why You Should Take Less Salt?

It has been known and probably shown by dozens of studies that consuming too much salt (sodium) can cause hypertension (high blood pressure), which in turn will increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimated that more than 800,000 Americans die from heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases every year. According to AHA (American Heart Association), nearly half of all deaths caused by cardiovascular disease in the United States are related to hypertension. 

Statistics shows that Americans consumes an average of 3,600 mg of salt a day (about a teaspoon and a half), which is obviously much higher than that stipulated in recommended guidelines.

Current dietary guidelines recommend that people should take less than 2,300 mg of salt a day (about a teaspoon). For people who are 51 or older, are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, their daily intake should not be more than 1,500 mg.

A paper published February 11, 2013 in the journal ‘Hypertension’ suggested that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved in the next decade, if Americans could cut the amount of salt they consume.

Scientists from the University of California San Francisco, Harvard Medical School and Simon Fraser University in Canada each used completely different computer simulation models to estimate how lowering sodium would save lives, largely by reducing the number of heart attacks and strokes.

One model examined the effects of gradually reducing sodium intake by 40 percent over 10 years to 2,200 milligrams a day (about a teaspoon), the second model calculated the impact of instantly reducing sodium intake by 40 percent, and the third model assessed the benefits of instantly cutting sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day, about a half teaspoon. 

All the 3 models found consistent and substantial benefits of lowering sodium consumption from the current level of intake. While gradually reducing sodium intake by 40 percent over 10 years could save an estimated 280,000 to 500,000 lives, immediately lowering sodium intake would save 500,000 to 850,000 more lives, about 60 percent more.

The researchers admitted that people might not be able to instantly reduce their salt intake, taking into account of the prevailing high salt intake. It might be more realistic for people to gradually reduce their salt intake over time.

According to AHA, an estimated 80 percent of salt intake comes from commercially prepared and processed foods. Hence, it is important that the public health approach should target lower levels of added sodium in these products through a combined effort of regulation, consumer education and food labeling and voluntary partnership with food manufacturers.

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