Despite general wide-spread knowledge that consuming too much salt is unhealthy--and despite the plethora of low-salt alternatives on supermarket shelves--new research finds Americans still eat prodigious quantities of salt, enough to easily be a cause of the national epidemic of hyper-tension (abnormally high blood pressure.)
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health--including celebrity doc, Walter Willett--took a simple approach. The study looked at multiple studies detailing per-person 24 hour urinary excretion of sodium over a 46 year period in the U.S. Because 95% of daily dietary sodium intake is excreted in the urine, the researchers were able to reasonably estimate sodium intake from the data. And what they found was an alarmingly large scale over-consumption of salt.
The Harvard group found that on average Americans have been consuming more than twice the amount of sodium recommended for maintaining health by the Institute of Medicine. The recommended daily intake of sodium is just over half a teaspoon at 1500 mg (for young adults) and 1300 mg (for adults ages 50-70.) According to the study, adults are actually eating closer to 3712 mg of sodium per day, which is the equivalent of about 1.5 teaspoons. Our blood pressure rises just thinking about it.