On average, Americans consume about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, 1,000 milligrams more than the maximum of 2,300 recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The limit is even lower -- 1,500 milligrams -- for anyone 51 and older, anyone who is African-American, or anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Although not everyone is “salt-sensitive,” there’s more and more evidence indicating that decreasing sodium -- and increasing potassium -- would offer many health benefits. In fact, a 2011 CDC study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that Americans who eat a diet high in sodium and low in potassium have a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause, and about twice the risk of death from heart attacks. Knowing this, a craving for salt does begin to sour, doesn’t it?
It’s clear that Americans have a taste for salt, but salt plays a role in high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should further reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.
- Hidden Sodium
The problem is that most Americans consume way too much sodium, and the body absorbs almost all of it. Most people know that too much sodium is associated with high blood pressure. Although that's true only for people who are salt-sensitive -- estimated at about 10 percent of the population -- recent research has uncovered other concerns about high-sodium diets.