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Cutting Salt May Save Half A Million Lives

The number is impressive. As many as 500,000 American lives could be saved if we ate just a little bit less salt each day according to new research appearing in the journal of the American Heart Association, Hypertension. The study found that a slow decrease in the consumption of salt over a ten year period, ending up as a 40% reduction from where intake is today, would cut the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and prolong the lives of from 280,000 to 500,000 people. The study operated under the assumption that daily salt intake was lowered to 2,200 milligrams; most Americans take in 3,600 milligrams of sodium each day, more than double the recommended amount.

The study results clearly demonstrate the value of cutting the consumption of sodium according to Michael Jacobson who is executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a well-known consumer watchdog group. What makes this work so important is that there were three groups of researchers, each using different models and approaches to their computer simulations, who all came to the very same conclusion.

Cutting sodium intake prolongs health, saves lives.

The recommended amount of sodium intake – 1,500 milligrams a day – according to figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is far lower than the typical intake of 3,600 milligrams of sodium most of us get each day. Those who need to be especially careful about their sodium intake are people with high blood pressure, a condition that most of us have by the time we reach our later years.

The good news if you’re into flavor (and who isn’t?) is that you don’t have to remove the saltshaker from every table in America to achieve sodium reductions. Food makes need to reduce the amount of salt they are putting in the commercially prepared or pre-packaged foods sold in stores. These foods are the source of 80% of our sodium intake.

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Cutting Salt May Save Half A Million Lives Continued…

Working with the industry is key according to the study lead author Kirstin Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D. who is an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco. Yet there seems little chance of that as industry spokesperson Morton Satin, science and research director at the Salt Institute, blasted the research as too narrow. He feels that too much focus over the last 30 years has been on high blood pressure, as if there were no other serious disease. Plus a low salt intake can be trouble for those with diabetes and some other conditions. He claims that the industry sells more salt during a winter snowstorm than they do to food makers the whole year through.

It’s certainly true that a healthy body does need a balance of sodium and water so that body systems work properly. Too much of either salt or water and you upset the balance. Too much salt causes your body to hold onto water, and this puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. In some this becomes or raises existing high blood pressure

Yet, look at what’s on supermarket shelves and you’ll quickly see that the U.S. food supply doesn’t make it easy to choose lower salt products so that we might get close to those recommended intake levels. We need more low salt options. We need to be more aware. In the meantime, reading labels, and taking care as you prepare foods are your best options for getting your intake to where it should be.

To your good health,