Ninety Percent of Americans Eat Too Much Salt, CDC Reports

Ninety Percent of Americans Eat Too Much SaltAccording to a report posted March 26 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), “About 9 in 10 Americans aged 2 years and older eat too much sodium.”

“There is strong evidence that eating too much sodium [salt] raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor for stroke. A person with normal blood pressure has half the risk of having a stroke in their lifetime compared to someone with high blood pressure,” the CDC reported.

The updated report was posted by the CDC on its website, in connection with World Salt Awareness Week, which is taking place March 26 – April 1.

World Salt Awareness Week is an annual international campaign that was introduced in 2008 by the salt reduction action group World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), as a means of focusing attention on the importance of reducing salt intake to prevent stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Salt reduction and stroke prevention has been selected as the topic for World Salt Awareness Week 2012 because salt is the major factor that raises blood pressure, which is the single most important risk factor for stroke, according to WASH. In addition, evidence has shown that salt intake also has a direct effect on stroke, WASH reports.

The Statistics About Stroke and Salt

“Worldwide 3 million women and 2.5 million men die from stroke every year. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in developed countries,” WASH reports on its website.

“Reducing average salt intake by just 1g/day can prevent thousands of deaths from stroke every year, plus the additional thousands of events that do not result in death,” WASH states. Most U.S. food labels state salt content in milligrams (mg). A one gram per day reduction in salt means a reduction of 1,000 milligrams (1,000 mg).

According to the CDC, “Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year, and contrary to popular belief, most of them survive – but often with serious consequences.” “At least half of all stroke patients are left permanently disabled with paralysis, speech difficulties, memory loss and emotional problems. Stroke survivors also face enormous medical expenses. In 2010, stroke cost the nation an estimated $54 billion in health care services, medications, and missed days of work,” the CDC reported.

Reducing sodium intake is a major part of the Million Hearts™ initiative being co-sponsored by the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the American Heart Association, and other private and nonprofit organizations, to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years.

Top Sources of the Salt We Eat

According to the CDC, “Most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought and restaurant food.”

A recent CDC Vital Signs report, stated that 44% of the sodium we eat comes from only 10 types of foods:

  1. Breads and rolls
  2. Cold cuts and cured meats
  3. Pizza
  4. Poultry
  5. Soups
  6. Sandwiches
  7. Cheese
  8. Pasta dishes
  9. Meat dishes
  10. Snacks

How Much Salt Should You Eat & How to Reduce Salt in Your Diet

Eating less sodium can help prevent or lower your risk of stroke. The CDC report states, “Current dietary guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. If you are African American, 51 years of age or older, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you should further reduce sodium to 1,500 milligrams per day.”

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans updated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2010, in addition to stating the above recommended daily salt intake limits, provided tips on how to reduce salt intake. One suggestion was to read food labels, compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose the foods with lower sodium numbers.

Here are more tips provided by the CDC, on how to reduce sodium in your diet:

  • Read Nutrition Facts labels when shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen (without sauce), or canned (with no salt added).
  • Limit processed foods high in sodium.
  • When eating out, request no salt be added to your meal.

More information on high-salt foods and how to cut down the salt in your diet was provided in the CDC’s recent Vital Signs report on “Where’s the sodium? There’s too much in many common foods,” and a Fact Sheet issued by the CDC along with that report.

See also the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan, a lower-salt diet and dietary guidelines for lowering and controlling high blood pressure, issued and recommended by the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

More Information

See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

10 Foods Largely Responsible for 9 of 10 Americans Eating Too Much Salt, New CDC Report Finds

Eat Less Salt & More Potassium to Live Longer, New Study Suggests

New Study Fuels Controversy Over Benefits of Salt Reduction in Diet & in Processed Foods

AMA urges immediate FDA action to reduce excess salt in food

Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH: the DASH Eating Plan.

For more information on healthy diet and other lifestyle factors promoting wellness for seniors and caregivers, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

For more information on prevention of heart disease and stroke, see the CDC website on Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

See also the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Heart Disease & Stroke, including

And see, the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on High Blood Pressure, including:


Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.


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