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Americans Eat Too Much Salt

Flickr/Rafe Saltman
Flickr/Rafe Saltman

Why you salty broad. You old salt. A new "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health says 88% of the U.S. population consumes more than the recommended amount of salt per day, increasing their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The biggest culprit, unsurprisingly, is processed food.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people aged 2 years and older should limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg. People in certain population groups, such as those who either have high blood pressure or who are at high risk of developing it, should aim for a sodium target of less than 1,500 mg a day. A whopping 98 percent of the people in the highest risk groups, which include blacks, older adults (51+) and persons with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic disease, are not achieving that goal.

Researchers analyzed data from close to19,000 participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2008) and found that 98.6% of Americans who should reduce their daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg (including 99.4% of those aged 18 years or older), and 88.2% of those who should reduce their intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (including 95% of those aged18 years or older), consume more than those amounts. Kids and teenagers do slightly better than adults when it comes to salt consumption, but not much.

The report noted that about 75% of the sodium in the typical American diet is added to commercial foods during processing or during preparation of restaurant foods. About 25% occurs naturally or is added at the table or in home cooking.

The researchers concluded new population-based strategies and increased public health efforts will be required to meet the sodium targets in the 2010 dietary guidelines. They suggest setting mandatory sodium targets for processed and restaurant foods, improving sodium content labeling and encouraging businesses to implement policies that establish sodium limits for foods they distribute.

You probably shouldn't take this news with a grain of salt.


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