Lower Sodium Intake Could Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives

Lowering the amount of salt Americans eat in their food could save hundreds of thousands of lives, according to new research.

In fact, reducing sodium consumption by 40 percent to about 2,200 mg daily over 10 years could save as many as 500,000 lives. Eating too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure, which raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular diseases, according to the American Heart Assocation. Nearly half of the deaths caused by heart disease are related to high blood pressure.

“These findings strengthen our understanding that sodium reduction is beneficial to people at all ages,” said lead author Pamela Coxson, a mathematics specialist in the department of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, in a news release from the AHA. “Even small, gradual reductions in sodium intake would result in substantial mortality benefits across the population.”

The research, funded by the AHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in the journal Hypertension. Three research groups contributed to the study, according to the news release, using different approaches. But all of them produced similar results.

Researchers also found that Americans consume about 3,600 mg of sodium per day. That’s significantly higher than the current recommended limit of 2,300 mg of sodium for healthy, young Americans. It’s also more than twice the recommended intake for about half of the adult population in the United States. Anyone who is 51 years of age or older, African American, or has high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium daily, according to the CDC.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Heart Association news release

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