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Amazing Stat: A Little Less Salt Could Save Your Life

A new study shows that simply cutting our daily salt intake by 3 grams could eliminate thousands of heart disease and stroke cases, and save billions in healthcare costs.

By Emily Main

tags: HEART HEALTH, SALT



Amazing Stat: A Little Less Salt Could Save Your Life

Feasting on fresh produce and salads can help you cut out salt—if you avoid salty dressings and additives.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Fixing our nation's healthcare dilemma could be as easy as cutting our salt intake, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A food additive that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have much power to regulate, salt has become more and more prevalent in our diets, as we eat out more and spend more grocery dollars on ready-made but heavily processed food. But the health problems associated with too much salt—including high blood pressure, heart disease, and increased risk of stroke—have many public health officials suggesting we all cut back. And as it turns out, it won't take much to turn the salty tide.

THE DETAILS: The scientists used computer modeling to see how much money could be saved by cutting 3 grams (g) of salt from the average American's daily diet. That's about 1,200 milligrams (mg) of sodium, and a mere half-teaspoon of salt. Their research found that a slight reduction in our salt intake could result in 60,000 to 120,000 fewer cases of heart disease and 32,000 to 66,000 fewer strokes, and it could reduce the number of deaths by up to 92,000 each year. In addition, such a move would cut between $10 billion to $24 billion in healthcare costs. Even cutting intake by a single gram—barely a third of a teaspoon—could reduce heart disease by 37,000 cases, strokes by 20,000, and deaths by 28,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: Although groups like the American Heart Association recommend that healthy adults get less than 6 g of salt (about 2,300 mg of sodium) each day, the average adult male gets 10.4 g and the average adult woman consumes 7.3, according to the study's authors. If you're looking for a fast and easy way to improve your health, start by cutting 400 mg of sodium, equal to 1 g of salt, out of your diet each day. Then work toward eliminating the recommended 3 g.

Keep reading for five ways to start shaking the salt out of your diet.

Published on: January 21, 2010
Updated on: April 20, 2010



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My Food My Choice

The Bloomberg administration is pursuing a sweeping sodium reduction campaign that makes NYC residents test subjects and pressures food companies to drastically change their products regardless of the desires of consumers. Worse yet, this bureaucratic agenda is not based on sound science, but on political science and alarmism.

Sign the petition today and save NYC's incredible and diverse cuisine and protect your right to make your own food choices.

http://myfoodmychoice.org

A Little Less Salt Could Save Your Life

Your suggestion #2 was:

2: Swap out white flour for wheat. A single cup of whole wheat flour has 6 mg of sodium, compared to 1,588 mg in that all-purpose, self-rising, refined white flour. So go for whole grains when you cook, to cut that 1,200 mg of sodium (and then some). The same goes for the bread that you buy. A slice of white bread has 170 mg of sodium, while a slice of whole wheat bread has 145—not a huge difference, but nevertheless a step closer to that 3 g salt-reduction target.

This is not a fair comparison. Self rising flour is made by mixing all purpose flour with salt and baking powder, which is made of baking soda, also known as SODIUM bicarbonate. What is the difference between the sodium content of 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose (not self rising)flour?

There are many reasons to use whole wheat instead of white flour, but I am not convinced this is one.

salt -- no, it's about choices, isn't it?

Don't you think this is backward? People eat too much salt because they eat junk that is salt laden. Cutting out those bad food choices cuts salt -- so people who don't completely load up on salt probably aren't loading up on the crap the salt came with.

I suspect my own diet is salty but healthy, and won't harm my heart.

BTW, white flour is nearly salt free. You shouldn't use self-rising flour anyway, because of the aluminated chemicals used to leaven it, according to Rodale's previous advice on baking powders...:)

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