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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

Most Americans Fail in Knowing Effects of Wine and Sea Salt on High Blood Pressure

Senior citizens most knowledgeable about wine consumption but least likely to drink it

April 25, 2011 – Senior citizens did well in a new survey by the American Heart Association when it came to testing their knowledge about the recommended limits for wine consumption, but about the same as others when questioned about sea salt. Both substances are receiving increased attention as High Blood Pressure Awareness Month is about to kickoff on May 1.

In this survey, 55 percent of those seniors aged 65 or older said they have high blood pressure – a significantly higher percentage than the younger age groups. Although, they were the least likely to be wine drinkers (69 percent; group average of 73 percent).

Heavy and regular use of any type of alcohol can dramatically increase blood pressure and high-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the AHA. The new survey, however, found most Americans think drinking wines is good for your heart, but they are unaware of the recommended alcohol limits.

Senior citizens were the most likely age group to correctly identify the wine limits as 8 ounces for men and 4 for women.


Related Archive Stories


Heavy Liquor Drinking May Increase Risk of Death from Pancreatic Cancer

Significant risk associated with 3 drinks daily for men, 4 for women; risk not noted for wine or beer

March 14, 2011

Alcohol Consumption by Elderly Reduces Risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s

Most studies of senior citizens in last 31 years show association between moderate alcohol consumption and better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia

March 7, 2011

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

Jan. 14, 2011

Moderate Drinking – Especially Wine – Results in Better Cognitive Function in Senior Citizens

Women did best on testing if they consumed at least 4 or more in two weeks; worst performers drank none

Aug. 18, 2010

Your Risk of a Stroke Doubles for an Hour After Drinking Any Alcoholic Drink

Moderate alcohol consumption (less than two drinks a day) appears to be protective over the long-term - may outweigh this temporary immediate risk

July 28, 2010

Americans Consume Too Much Salt and Senior Citizens May Not Know Their Suggested Limit

Lower sodium recommendation applies to all seniors and almost 70 percent of American adults

March 30, 2009

Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements


Most people in this survey, however, mistakenly believe sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to regular table salt.

The American Heart Association surveyed 1,000 American adults to assess their awareness and beliefs about how wine and salt affect heart health. Many studies have reported the benefits of limited wine intake for heart health and the risks of too much salt.

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that wine can be good for your heart. Drinking too much can be unhealthy, yet only 30 percent of those surveyed knew the American Heart Association’s recommended limits for daily wine consumption.

“This survey shows that we need to do a better job of educating people about the heart-health risks of overconsumption of wine, especially its possible role in increasing blood pressure,” said Gerald Fletcher, M.D., American Heart Association spokesperson and professor of medicine - cardiovascular diseases, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.

If you drink any alcohol, including wine, beer and spirits, the American Heart Association recommends that you do so in moderation. Limit consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women ― for example, that’s generally 8 ounces of wine for men and four ounces of wine for women. 

Heavy and regular alcohol use of any type of alcohol can dramatically increase blood pressure. It can also cause heart failure, lead to stroke and produce irregular heartbeats. Heavy drinking can contribute to high triglycerides, cancer, obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents.

Also Confused About Low-Sodium Food Choices

The survey also showed that many Americans are confused about low-sodium food choices and don’t know the primary source of sodium in American diets. Excessive sodium can increase blood pressure in some people, increasing the risk of heart diseases and stroke. 

Sixty-one percent of respondents incorrectly agreed that sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt. Kosher salt and most sea salt are chemically the same as table salt (40 percent sodium), and they count the same toward total sodium consumption. 

Forty-six percent said table salt is the primary source of sodium in American diets, which is also incorrect. Up to 75 percent of the sodium that Americans consume is found in processed foods such as tomato sauce, soups, condiments, canned foods and prepared mixes. 

“High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. You must remember to read the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list on food and beverages,” said Dr. Fletcher. 

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. To effectively limit sodium intake, when buying prepared and prepackaged foods, you should read the nutrition and ingredient labels. Sodium compounds are present whenever food labels include the words “soda” and “sodium,” and the chemical symbol “Na.” 

Managing your blood pressure is a good way to manage your heart health. Access the American Heart Association’s free information, resources and tools on high blood pressure at

Other Resources:

   ●  Myths about high blood pressure 

   ●  Survey results

   ●  High blood pressure website 

   ●  Track your health on Heart360

   ●  Heart and Stroke Encyclopedia

   ●  Statistics

   ●  AHA Statements and Guidelines

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