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AHA Supports Lower Sodium Limits For Americans

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides additional scientific evidence that the majority of Americans over the age of twenty should limit the amount of sodium (salt) they consume daily to 1,500 milligrams (mg) to prevent and reduce high blood pressure. The new data are published in CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.

“In light of new data from the CDC, which show that 69 percent of adults are salt sensitive, the need to reduce sodium consumption has become an even higher priority for our country’s health,” said Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and professor of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.a

“The American Heart Association recommends that most people strive to lower the amount of sodium consumed daily to less than 1,500 mg, to prevent or manage high blood pressure, a major but modifiable risk factor for heart attack and stroke,” Van Horn said. “The new CDC data adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that supports this recommendation – there are now a substantial number of scientific studies that show a direct relationship between salt intake and a rise in blood pressure. An upper limit of no more than 1,500 mg could significantly reduce the rate of high blood pressure in the United States.”

The U.S. food supply contains excessive amounts of sodium (salt), which makes limiting sodium (salt) consumption to less than 1,500 mg difficult. According to the CDC report, Americans over the age of 2 consumed a daily average of 3,436 mg between 2005-2006, up from a daily average of 3,329 mg from 2001-2002.

In recognition of this fact, the American Heart Association is currently working with federal agencies to identify strategies to reduce the amount of sodium in the food supply and is encouraging food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the sodium (salt) added to food by 50 percent over the next ten years.

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In 2006, the American Heart Association acknowledged that a daily upper limit of no more than 1,500 mg is a good therapeutic goal to strive for to prevent and treat high blood pressure, but also suggested an interim goal of no more than 2,300 mg a day of sodium because the current food supply makes it difficult to achieve the lower number.

“The American Heart Association will continue to explore ways to help reduce the sodium content in our food supply,” Van Horn said. “In the meantime, we urge all Americans to reduce the amount of sodium they consume, preferably to no more than 1,500 mg daily. It may be difficult, but adhering to this goal could significantly reduce blood pressure levels in the United States.”

High salt diets have been linked to an increase in blood pressure and an increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke.

* High blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) is defined as the top number (systolic) of a blood pressure reading as being 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or the bottom number of a blood pressure reading (diastolic) of 90 mm Hg or higher.

* One in three adults in the United States has HBP (Hypertension. 2004; 44:398).

* Most of the sodium (salt) in the U.S. diet comes from processed foods, so consumers should be careful to read the Nutrition Facts Panel.

* 1,500 mg of sodium is between one-half and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. One teaspoon of salt equals about 2,300 mg of sodium.