Michael Omidi – Reducing Salt May Save Lives

February 12, 2013

Health

Michael Omidi looks at a recent study that suggests that reducing sodium in foods could save hundreds of thousands of lives. Michael Omidi also looks at the measures being taken by New York City to reduce salt consumption.

On average it is estimated that Americans consume about 3,600 mg of sodium, predominately from table salt, every day. It is suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that sodium intake be limited to 2,300 mg each day and 1,500 mg per day if you are over the age of 51 or suffer from disorders such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, or diabetes. Obviously Americans are consuming a significant amount more of sodium than is recommended, and new research suggests that reducing sodium intake to daily recommended levels could save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Researchers from UC San Francisco, Harvard Medical School, and Simon Fraser University each conducted an analysis to discover what effects could be expressed by reducing the amount of sodium consumed by an individual over the course of a 10-year period. The three increments that the researchers examined were:

  • A gradual reduction by 40% to 2,200 mg of sodium each day.
  • An immediate reduction in sodium intake to 2,200 mg per day.
  • Instant reduction in sodium to 1,500 mg per day.

The found that any reduction in sodium, whether it was gradual or immediate, would save lives, but the numbers are quite staggering as to just how many lives could be saved as a result of something as simple as salt reduction. A gradual reduction down to 2,200 mg per day was projected to save between a quarter of a million and a half million people over the course of a decade. Most startling was the finding that concluded that over 10 years if sodium was limited to 1,500 mg per day it could prevent as many as 1.2 million deaths.

With findings like these it is no wonder that a city like New York would be actively focusing on campaigns to change the eating patterns of its residents. This campaign has led to 21 companies meeting the first stage in reducing the sodium content of their foods. 30 companies have made a commitment to reduce the amount of salt content in their foods by 25% over 5 years. With these companies reducing the amount of salt in their products other ingredients for flavoring will be utilized, including potassium chloride. While Americans are not currently getting enough potassium in their diet, there may end up being complications associated with too much potassium intake or other additives taking their toll on health, but for now the issue of sodium is highest on the agenda.

With these decreases in sodium intake, hundreds of deaths can be prevented and that is something to strive for. If you are concerned about your salt intake you can find some tips from the Mayo Clinic on how to tame your salt habit.

Reducing Salt Intake May Save Lives

By Michael Omidi

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