Less is better, when it comes to salt
A simple measure that could go a long way in enhancing public health -- limit salt intake to less than 1,500 mg or about three-fourths of a teaspoon each day -- is the subject of an advisory to Americans.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued an advisory based on a thorough review of recent lab, animal, observational and clinical studies. This advisory is meant not only for people with medical conditions, but also for perfectly healthy people.
A limited salt intake would significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure (BP), heart disease and stroke.
"Our recommendation is simple in the sense that it applies to the entire US population, not just at-risk groups," said Nancy Brown, AHA's chief executive officer, the AHA journal Circulation reports.
BP affects more than 76 million adults in the US alone and one billion people worldwide, besides being a major cause of cardiovascular disease, globally, according to a Tulane University statement.
"People should not be swayed by calls for a change in sodium (salt) intake recommendations based on findings from recent studies," says Paul K. Whelton, professor of global public health at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, who led the study.
"Our detailed review of these studies identified serious methodological weaknesses, which limit the value of these reports in setting or revising sodium intake policy," adds Whelton.
"Our focus should be on finding effective ways to implement, not change, the existing American Heart Association policy on sodium intake," adds Whelton.
Yet, most US adults and children consume sodium far in excess of their physiological needs and guideline recommendations -- with an average daily intake more than 3,400 mg per day.
Most of the sodium consumed is hidden in processed and prepared foods.
AHA advocates improved nutritional labelling of sodium content and stringent limits on sodium in all foods -- fresh, processed and prepared.