In a recent study published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension, it was found that reducing sodium in the U.S. diet could save 280,000 to 500,000 lives over a ten year period. Currently, Americans consume an average of 3600 mg of sodium a day, with 80% of it coming from commercially prepared and processed foods. In contrast, the American Heart Association recommends only 1500 mg of sodium per day. Excess sodium intake is a contributing factor to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and nearly 50% of those deaths are related to high blood pressure.
The study proposed a gradual 40% reduction of sodium intake over a ten year period. It suggested that a gradual reduction was the most effective way and provides substantial mortality benefits for the population.
The American Heart Association has called upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to re-evaluate and set a lower daily limit for sodium and to set limits on the amount of sodium foods can contain. They recognize that it will be hard to reduce sodium intake without stricter guidelines and cooperation of the food industry.
We can help on a personal level by becoming more aware of what we are eating, looking at the packages for sodium levels, and then not adding additional salt. Try to identify other natural seasonings that can enhance the taste. Every little bit helps.