Salty Truth: Adults Worldwide Eating Too Much Sodium

According to the American Heart Association, excessive salt intake led to nearly 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010

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The latest research shows that almost everyone needs to hold the salt.

It’s a critical flavor enhancer for so many foods, and in centuries past, it was necessary for preserving perishables before the advent of refrigerators. But salt, alas, is one of the many factors plaguing American health. The American Heart Association (AHA) links too much salt in the diet to a higher risk for heart disease, hypertension and stroke, and according to research presented this week at the AHA’s 2013 Scientific Sessions, excessive salt led to nearly 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010.

The researchers analyzed 247 surveys of adults participating in the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Survey, which is a collaborative study involving researchers from 50 different countries. The participants reported on their sodium intake from 1990 to 2010 in food questionnaires. Overall, adults around the world ate an average of 4,000 mg of sodium a day, either from prepared foods or from table salt, soy sauce or additional salt sprinkled into meals while cooking. That’s twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization (2,000 mg per day) and nearly three times the amount the AHA says is healthy (1,500 mg per day).

(MORE: Top 10 Sources of Salt in Your Diet)

Of the 187 countries represented in the surveys, 181, home to 99% of the world’s population, exceeded the World Health Organization’s salt limit; only Kenya adhered to the AHA’s recommendation.

To emphasize the contribution that high sodium intake can have on health, the researchers then conducted a meta-analysis of 107 trials that measured the relationship between participants’ salt consumption and blood pressure and heart-disease risk.

Among people dying from heart attacks, strokes or other heart-related disorders, 40% were premature and occurred in people 69 and younger. Excessive salt intake — defined as anything above 1,000 mg per day — was linked to 84% of the deaths, and the majority occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Out of the 30 largest countries in the world, the U.S. ranked 19th, with 429 deaths per million adults due to excessive salt consumption.

The Salt Institute criticized the study, noting that the added heart-disease risk was compared with an unrealistically low level of salt consumption that no country in the world met. “This latest AHA statistical study on the worldwide mortality from dietary salt is misleading and totally devoid of genuine evidence,” said Morton Satin, vice president of science and research for the Salt Institute, in a statement. “Using a highly flawed statistical model, researchers simply projected potential reductions in mortality without considering all known health risks resulting from low salt intake.”

(MORE: Are We Training Babies to Crave Salt?)

Still, adults are not the only ones at risk. In other research presented at the AHA meeting, scientists reported that children are already eating too much salt as well. The high sodium content in prepackaged meals and snacks targeted at kids is pushing them to eat unhealthy amounts. About 75% of prepackaged meals are high in sodium, according to data that analyzed the salt content in 1,115 products for babies and toddlers.

In the analysis, the researchers defined “high in sodium” as containing over 210 mg per serving, and they found that some toddler meals contained up to 630 mg of sodium per serving. “Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods, may develop early in life. The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older,” said lead author Joyce Maalouf, a fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, in a statement.

(MORE: To Salt or Not to Salt? Study Questions Benefits of Reducing Dietary Sodium)

And the AHA says it’s worth remembering that salt doesn’t just come in the shaker on the table. Because it’s hidden in so many prepackaged and prepared foods, it’s important to read labels and nutritional information for things you don’t make yourself. And when cooking, keep salt to a minimum and try substituting with other flavors, like the sourness of lemon juice, to trick your taste buds into thinking they’re getting salt.

16 comments
larissa_j
larissa_j

Don't most people know this already? A can of soup has the max sodium intake for an entire day. Won't stop me from having it from time to time because you can adjust the next day but still - isn't this already common knowledge?

chrisgiammanco
chrisgiammanco

I statistical analysis really necessary here? my what it has done to jounalism

tomsquawk
tomsquawk

another study for some other reason than research. broken record research. salt, fat, sugar etc. we all know it, we've been hearing it ad naseum. how much did that study cost? just one more instance where the nannies are running amok. sure that poutine was good, i'll need to eat otherwise to make up for it. but i'm not going to feel guilty for it.



RonRathbun
RonRathbun

That equates to .000327169275 of 1%.  More people die from sneezing every day than the statistical fatalities associated with a high salt diet.  So what they are really after is more control of you. If you roll over on anything, then they can get you to roll over on everything.

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

The Sugar and Salt lies from the Media: Salt is great for your health and you cannot live without it. In the right amounts (just as Sugar) you will be fine. Isn't it amazing these articles and the TV Media never focus on the true causes of being overweight "Processed foods and food chemicals.   Aspartame, Splenda and Saccharin all cause weight gain but the Billion dollar fake food makers are protected by the FDA  

See here  and learn why we diet and  are still  fat  http://type2diabetesdietplan.blogspot.com/2013/02/dieting-but-still-fat-what-did-they-put.html




mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

"Cut salt" is the easy message. The idea is to get people to read labels and be aware of what they are eating. What they're really saying is that the vast majority of foods with high salt content are very unhealthy for many reasons: saturated fat, bad carbs, and unnatural ingredients (yellow dye #5: what the hell is that?).

Generally speaking, if you cut salt, you're going to be eating healthier overall.  For example, 4 cups of spring mix salad only has 40 calories, zero fat, 8 carbs (2 of which are fiber), and zero cholesterol. But once you add the salad dressing (a processed food), the healthy salad becomes bad for you. Ranch dressing has 180 calories, 20 grams of fat, 260 mg of salt, and 5 mg of cholesterol. AND THAT'S FOR ONLY TWO TABLESPOONS. A buddy of mine recently commented that he had high blood pressure and cholesterol while he dumped 10 tablespoons of dressing on his salad. He was eating 900 calories just in SALAD DRESSING and didn't know why his doctor told him to eat healthier.

So, the message should be, "Cut processed foods". Don't eat fast food and be very careful about restaurants.

doubting_thomas
doubting_thomas

Doctors since at least the 1930s have advised drastically lower salt consumption, but the science behind this advice has  come under a lot of fire of late. Even the New York Times recently ran an opinion piece "Salt, We Misjudged You" (can't post a link but Google it) seriously questioning the whole anti-salt jihad.  The Times piece was somewhat based on the conclusions of a meta analysis by the well respected Cochrane Review that surveyed a number of salt studies and which also found no clear benefit from reducing salt. There was an immediate and irate reaction to the Cochrane study from anti-salt doctors, although I could not help noticing that these were mostly from docs with official (paid) positions in organizations dedicated to spreading the anti-salt message.

I have hypertension and wish to hell the doctors would figure this one out. I initially cut out a great deal of salt from my diet and found almost no benefit (I am a white male, results apparently vary somewhat depending on your race). The only things that have actually helped me significantly are substantial weight loss and exercise. I have long believed that the very modest benefits (2-3 percent reduction in systolic pressure) shown even in the poster-boy low-salt studies like the DASH 30-day trial come only from the slight weight loss you get when you rid yourself of excess body fluid. But I am a layman and that's just an opinion.

So really, doctors, before you advise your patients to give up the taste of food for life, for what seem to be minimal or sketchy benefits, could you at least design and run some solid studies that settle the issue scientifically?

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

First it was Sugar and now Salt, I do not believe these studies one bit.

These Media stories always pick on natural substances but never tell the truth about the true causes of our health problem

The BILLION dollar fake food makers are protected by the FDA and have made the people sick..

1. Fake Sweeteners - Aspartame, Sucrlose and Saccharine cause obesity and cancers..USE SUGAR

2. Genetically "Altered" Foods which create health problem and you stay  FAT. All these things were exposed in the Spirit Happy Diet 

See here http://spirithappydiet.blogspot.com/2013/03/dieting-but-still-fat-whats-in-food.html




yendor555
yendor555

I truly believe that I am salt sensitive by nature; consequently I'm ingesting as have been for 12 years 3 different medicines to keep my blood pressure under control.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

Uh-oh, I'll bet Mayor Bloomberg now bans the Atlantic Ocean.

Frediano
Frediano

I'm waiting for the study that admits that too many of us are taking free advice from studies.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Everything in moderation except S.E.X .

frankothemountain
frankothemountain

Salt has been replaced with a crude replica. Know what you are eating. Use REAL sea salt. There is fake sea salt too. Funny that you don't mention this in yet another "salt" article Alexandra. 

No one wants to hear about a solution though, so excuse me as I waste my breath.

at7004
at7004

@doubting_thomas

Heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes are all the same disease. And here is primarily what causes it-

Sedentary lifestyle + sugars/refined-carbs + omega-6 to omega-3 fat imbalance =  Heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes

at7004
at7004

@thewholetruth  

Consuming too much saturated fat and sodium is not the worse thing for a persons health. Consuming sugars and refined carbs is. Mix that with obesity and lack of exercise, and you get sick people.  Grandma and Dr Atkins were right, it's the carbs that will kill you.