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
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
“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
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
“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