Raising Salt Awareness

Salt Awareness Week designed to warn of elevated hypertension risk

(RxWiki News) At least 90 percent of Americans consume more than the daily recommended salt intake, a leading contributor to high blood pressure. Most aren't even checking the sodium content of their favorite foods.

Hoping to improve that statistic the American Heart Association is supporting World Salt Awareness Week beginning March 26, an initiative started by World Action on Salt and Health to emphasize the importance of cutting sodium intake.

"Restrict sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day."

Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association, said that cutting back on sodium consumption is one of the most important steps individuals can take to live longer, healthier lives. He noted that the organization has worked diligently to encourage manufacturers to reduce the amount of sodium in foods sold in the U.S. and advocating for more accessible healthy foods.

About 75 percent of sodium comes from processed foods, noted the American Heart Association, so a change in manufacturing processes could substantially aid consumers.

Most individuals should restrict their sodium consumption to about 1,500 milligrams a day. If all Americans stuck to this recommendation, the prevalence of hypertension would be reduced by about 26 percent and it would result in about $26 million in healthcare savings.

In order to help meet this goal and improve heart health, the American Heart Association recommends eating foods with little or no salt.

The organization suggests reading food labels to identify the sodium content in various foods, asking that dishes be prepared without salt at restaurants, limiting portion size and reducing the amount of processed foods consumed.

The American Heart Association also recommends eating more fruits and vegetables, choosing foods rich in potassium such as bananas to counter the effects of sodium, and using fresh herbs instead of salt to season food.

Review Date: 
March 23, 2012