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
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.
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.
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.
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
Teaspoon by Teaspoon, Aug. 31, 2010, Quality Assurance & Food
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
● You are 40 years of age
or older. ● You are African American. ● You have high blood pressure.
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.
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
According to the
● 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
● Don't smoke cigarettes or use
any tobacco product.
● Lose weight if you're
● Exercise regularly.
● Eat a healthy diet that
includes lots of fruits and vegetables and is low in fat.
● Limit your sodium, alcohol and
● Try relaxation techniques or
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
● Independent of its effects on blood
pressure, excess sodium intake adversely affects the heart, kidneys, and
● 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
● 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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