Do you know how much salt you should take each day? The amount of daily recommended level of sodium is not more than 1,500 mg (equivalent to about 5 to 6 g of table salt). And it seems that most Americans consume more than double of that, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release.
But why should we pay attention to our daily salt intake?
A diet rich in sodium is not favourable for our cardiovascular health. It increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. These diseases are the first and third leading causes of mortality in the United States, respectively.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco report that even a small reduction in dietary salt can have far-reaching consequences. They estimate that ” cutting just 1 g of salt a day would prevent a quarter of a million new heart-disease cases and 200 000 deaths from any cause over a decade.”
We may not be aware of it, but most of the salt we consume does not come from our very own kitchen. 80% of salt in Western country’s diet comes from processed and prepared food. It is therefore difficult for people to keep track of their salt consumption.
According to the CDC.
Nationwide, 16 million men and women have heart disease and 5.8 million are estimated to have had a stroke. People who reduce their sodium consumption benefit from improved blood pressure and reduce their risk for developing other serious health problems. Choosing foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, when eating out, asking that foods be prepared without added salt, and reading the nutrition label of foods before purchasing can improve health for all adults.
However, not all food labels reflect the real salt content and some labels are too complicated for consumers to understand.
The USCSF researchers recommend that public-health types of intervention such as
- regulatory efforts to restrict salt
- force labeling of foods based on their salt content
- encouragement of food manufacturers to reduce salt.
“The experience in other countries suggests that with these very small changes we are describing, we will not change the taste of foods or the profit margins of the food industry, but it would be a great benefit for public health.”
Some major players in the food industry have answered the public health issue of salt consumption. The food company Campbell’s has set a good example and came up with a special line of heart-friendly products that contains 50% less sodium. Let us hope that more food companies will follow suit.
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