How bad is all that salt in the food you eat?
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Getting the salt out could save a lot of lives.
Getting the salt out could save a lot of lives. Mario Tama/Getty Images
Let's put it this way, if everyone in the country ate just a half-teaspoon less salt each day, it would save the lives of between 44,000 and 92,000 people a year. The prediction comes from an analysis just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Eating a lot of salt raises the risks for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Sodium one of two elements that make up table salt is the bad actor.
Americans consume far more than they need. The government recommends limiting salt intake to 5.8 grams a day, or about 1 1/2 teaspoons. But the average American gets about 10.4 grams of salt a day; women consume about 7.3 grams a day.
Even if you want to cut back on salt, it's hard to do. Most of the stuff—75 percent to 80 percent— finds its way into your body through processed foods, not the shaker on the table. That's sparked proposals to get the food industry to dial back how much salt is put into food.
A consortium of health departments and medical groups led by New York City recently proposed that food companies voluntarily reduce salt by 25 percent over the next five years.