nina | February 20th, 2012 - 3:15 pm


The government’s 2011 update of the Dietary Guidelines continued to recommend 2,300mg of sodium per day for adults, but there is a huge asterisk:  The level for African-Americans, people with hypertension, and anyone over the age of 51 dropped to 1,500mg.  That’s basically half the population.  Yet the average American consumption is 3,400mg. 

Too much salt can elevate blood pressure, which can lead to stroke or heart disease.  Diets low in sodium and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help lower blood pressure and keep tickers ticking. 

How much salt do we need?  It varies by individual, but it is estimated we need only 250 to 500mg per day for physiological functions like muscle contractions and nerve transmissions.

Is it easy to estimate how much salt you consume?  No.  Most individuals that did a guess-your-consumption visual, guessed they were allowed about 1/2 teaspoon but believed they were eating 2 1/2 teaspoons.  Point:  You need to learn the numbers, and read the labels. 

Where does sodium lurk?  Processed and restaurant foods deliver 77% in the average American diet.  Only 10 to 11% is added at the table.  The rest is added by cooks or occurs naturally in foods.


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