It might just be safe to go back into the water—salt water, that is. Actually, we’re talking about salt consumption and a new Danish study in the American Journal of Hypertension that finds we’re actually consuming the right amount of salt. That’s contrary to what we’ve been told, so this new salt study can be confusing.
(Hint: The words “salt” and “sodium” are interchangeable here. The most common form of sodium is sodium chloride, which is table salt.)
Finding a sodium balance
The authors acknowledge that both too much sodium or too little are both harmful, and that they produce cardiovascular risks. True, sodium reduction is recommended based upon the theory that sodium restriction, by lowering blood pressure, may prevent heart attacks and strokes. And so millions of us are told to limit sodium—so prevalent in many of the processed foods we buy.
This research team says that the safest range is between 2,645 and 4,945 mg of salt a day, and that the levels are congruent “with the current dietary intake of most of the world’s population.” However, our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC say the limit should be less than 2,300 mg per day for healthy people under age 50, and less than 1,500 mg per day for most people over the age of 50—which includes those of us with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. These groups together comprise more than 50 percent of the U.S. population.
Here’s a really helpful link from CDC that breaks down this sodium issue for us. “The majority of Americans’ daily sodium intake comes from grains and meat, and other top contributors include processed poultry, soups, and sandwiches,” says CDC.
Salt and sodium truths
We know that too much salt leads to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
- Sodium in salt may cause as many as 100,000 American deaths annually.
- One in three of us develop high blood pressure, and many of us don’t even know we have it. Salt holds fluid in the body, causing the heart to work harder.
- Too much sodium is also a risk factor for osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.
Why this study, and why now? The authors answered a 2013 U.S. Institute of Medicine report that pointed to little evidence about what is excessive or too little salt.