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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

Heart Association Urges All Americans Limit Sodium Intake to 1500 mg, Not Just Seniors

Too much salt a major health risk – 90% of U.S. population will develop hypertension

Photo from Quality Assurance & Food Safety Magazine, see Industry Response in table below.

1500 mg of salt is approximately 0.316 teaspoon, that is 31.6% of teaspoon. More at Yahoo Answers

Jan. 14, 2011 - The American Heart Association yesterday issued a call to action for the public, health professionals, the food industry and the government to intensify efforts to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) Americans consume daily to 1500 milligrams. This was already the level recommended by most health groups for senior citizens – those most endanger of high blood pressure.

The AHA noted that elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is a major public health problem – approximately 90 percent of all Americans will develop hypertension over their lifetime.

 

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In the advisory, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the association sets out the science behind the American Heart Association’s recommendation for the general population, which is to consume no more than 1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day because of the harmful effects of sodium – elevated blood pressure and increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and kidney disease.

 Sodium consumption is currently more than two times higher than the recommended upper limit of 1,500 mg daily, with 77 percent of that consumption coming from packaged, processed and restaurant foods.

“Even a modest decline in intake – say 400 mg per day –would produce benefits that are substantial and warrant implementation,” say the advisory authors.

Click for larger view

Industry Response. The food industry knows the processing benefits of salt, not only to enhance flavor, but as a preservative and stabilizer. However, as awareness increases among regulators, health care professionals and consumers as to the negative health aspects of sodium and the amounts in restaurant and processed foods—77 percent of the average American’s daily intake, food companies are seeking to join the prevailing trend and reduce sodium in their products. >> Reducing Sodium Teaspoon by Teaspoon, Aug. 31, 2010, Quality Assurance & Food Safety Magazine

The 2005 United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended a sodium intake limit of 2,300 mg per day, which many health experts say is too much for most Americans.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection said if you are in the following population groups, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg per day.

   ● You are 40 years of age or older.
   ● You are African American.
   ● You have high blood pressure.

Earlier this year, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended to the secretaries of the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the goal should be modified to 1,500 mg per day for the general population. The advisory committee consists of leading scientists who reviewed the most recent scientific studies and created a set of recommendations that are being reviewed by the secretaries.

Recently, the American Heart Association lowered their recommendation to no more than 1,500 mg of sodium daily for the general public, after a report from the Centers for Disease Control found that a majority of the American population either have high blood pressure or are at high risk for developing it.

According to the advisory:

   ● As sodium intake rises, so does blood pressure and the risk of negative health outcomes.

About High Blood Pressure, also called Hypertension

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. Usually they are written one above or before the other. A reading of
   ● 120/80 or lower is normal blood pressure
   ● 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
   ● Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is prehypertension

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. You can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed.

>> NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Lifestyle changes to avoid high blood pressure

   ● Don't smoke cigarettes or use any tobacco product.

   ● Lose weight if you're overweight.

   ● Exercise regularly.

   ● Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and is low in fat.

   ● Limit your sodium, alcohol and caffeine intake.

   ● Try relaxation techniques or biofeedback.

Is sodium really off limits?

Not everyone is affected by sodium, but sodium can increase blood pressure in some people. Most Americans with healthy blood pressure should limit the sodium in their diet to 2,300 mg per day. African Americans, older Americans and people with high blood pressure should limit the sodium in their diet to 1,500 mg per day. Your doctor may tell you to limit your sodium even more.

Don't add salt to your food. Check food labels for sodium. While some foods obviously have a lot of sodium, such as potato chips, you may not realize how much sodium is in food like bread, canned vegetables, soups and cheese. Also be aware that some medicines contain sodium.

>> More from the American Academy of Family Physicians

   ● Independent of its effects on blood pressure, excess sodium intake adversely affects the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.

   ● The potential public health benefits of sodium reduction are enormous and extend to all Americans.

   ● Scientific evidence on the adverse effects of excess sodium is strong and compelling 

   ● The American Heart Association’s 2020 impact goals – to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent – include a population-wide reduction of sodium consumption to less than 1,500 mg/daily as one of the ways the association will measure the nation’s cardiovascular health. Furthermore, a normal range blood pressure is another key factor the association will use to measure the nation’s cardiovascular health status.

   ● The American Heart Association is part of the National Salt Reduction Initiative, which is working with the food industry to reduce sodium content in packaged and restaurant food.

Inherent to the negative health effects are rising healthcare costs, the authors add. They point to one recent study that suggests a national effort that reduces sodium intake by 1,200 mg per day should reduce the health burdens related to heart disease in addition to reducing costs by up to $24 billion per year.

“Americans deserve the opportunity to choose how much sodium is in the food they eat. By supporting measures that will reduce sodium in the overall food supply, we are giving consumers freedom to select foods that could allow them to meet sodium recommendations and improve their ideal cardiovascular health,” said Ralph Sacco, M.D., president of the American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association advocates for more robust sodium criteria within school nutrition standards, foods advertised and marketed to children and foods purchased by employers or government feeding programs, and for the Secretaries of HHS and USDA to adopt the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendations. 

The association also supports improved food labeling that helps consumers understand how much sodium is in their diet and consumer education in restaurants to help consumers choose lower-sodium options. 

Editor’s Note: The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding

 

>> CDC Recommendation on Sodium Intake

More Information:

CDC High Blood Pressure

American Heart Association—Shake Your Salt HabitExternal Web Site Icon

American Society of HypertensionExternal Web Site Icon

Center for Science in the Public InterestExternal Web Site Icon

National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteExternal Web Site Icon

National High Blood Pressure Education ProgramExternal Web Site Icon

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) DietExternal Web Site Icon

New York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneExternal Web Site Icon

Nutrition.gov: What's in Food – Salt and SodiumExternal Web Site Icon

International Online Information

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH)External Web Site Icon

Food Standards Agency, United KingdomExternal Web Site Icon

World Health Organization, Reducing Salt Intake in PopulationsExternal Web Site Icon

World Hypertension LeagueExternal Web Site Icon

 

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