Less Salt for Teens means Healthier Hearts in Adulthood

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cutting back on salt could mean a healthier heart in adulthood for teens. Reducing salt intake by 3g daily (3000 mg) could mean years of living without high blood pressure. Researchers are urging changes in the amount of sodium consumed by teenagers that would still provide necessary intake.

Findings presented at the at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010, based on a computer model, suggest teens cut back salt from their average of 9g daily to 6g – a change that would lower the incidence of high blood pressure to 63 percent versus 44 percent in young adulthood.

Less Salt for Teens Means Fewer Adult Heart Attacks and Stroke

The researchers estimate that by age 50 less salt consumption among teens would decrease heart disease from 7 percent to 12, heart attacks from 7 to 14 percent, stroke from 5 percent to 8 percent and death from any cause from 5 percent to 9 percent.


“The hidden places of salt in our diet are in breads and cereals, canned foods and condiments, and of course fast foods,” said Bibbins-Domingo, also co-director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations. “Most of the salt that we eat is not from our salt shaker, but salt that is already added in food that we eat.” The biggest source of salt for teens is cited as coming from pizza.

Reducing dietary salt is expected to lead to changes in expectations of the way food should taste, potentially saving lives as teens progress to adulthood. The study authors point out that many food manufacturers have already made the switch from more to less salt in packaged and processed foods as part of the National Sodium Reduction initiative. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1500 mg of salt for most Americans. One teaspoon of salt contains 2300 mg.

Teenagers are getting about 9000 mg of salt each day. Curbing intake to less than 6000mg (6g) daily would have a significant impact on improved heart health by age 50. Cutting back to 3000mg a day is a small change that can mean years of heart health for teens as they mature into adulthood. Consider replacing the saltshaker with herb blends that can help your teen live longer and free from hypertension, shown in the analysis.