Nashville, TN – Americans’ love for salt is having a dramatic impact on their health. The average American takes in more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day—almost 2,000 milligrams more than the limit recommended by the American Heart Association (1500 mg/day).
Sodium is an essential nutrient and a little salt can be part of a healthy diet, but the amounts we are eating are far too high and can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.Too much salt can damage blood vessels over time, paving the way for high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Fact: most Americans have no idea how much they are eating, according to research.
The biggest contributor to our sodium consumption? It’s not the salt shaker. More than 75 percent of sodium consumption is from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods.
Even kids are affected
- Children ages 1-18 are at risk of developing heart disease and elevated blood pressure at an earlier age, because nearly 80 percent of 1 to 3-year-olds and more than 90 percent of 4 to 18-year-olds eat too much sodium.
- Kids who have high sodium diets are about 40 percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure than kids who have lower sodium diets.
- Taste preferences for salty foods may be established early in life, so children’s preference for salt may be reduced if they are exposed to lower sodium diets at a young age.
Tips to reduce your sodium intake?
- Compare labels of similar products and choose the one with the lowest amount of sodium
- Limit intake of processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods
- Control portion sizes;
- Cook at home more—use herbs, spices, citrus juices, and vinegars instead of salt to add flavor to foods.
Visit www.heart.org/sodium for more information and tips for reducing sodium in your diet, and take the Sodium Pledge.