Healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (the amount in one teaspoon of table salt), according to dietary guidelines. Middle-aged and older people, those with high blood pressure, and black Americans should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. But, the average American consumes 2,900 to 4,300 milligrams a day, the study authors said.
A high-sodium diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure (which can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease) and also increase the risk of asthma, kidney stones, osteoporosis and stomach cancer. A 50 percent reduction in Americans' dietary sodium intake could save 150,000 lives a year, according to the American Medical Association.
"On average, Americans consume far more sodium than the recommended daily limit. Unfortunately, cutting back isn't easy because of the high levels of sodium in the many processed and prepared foods that Americans eat on a regular basis," Hirsh said.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers advice on how to lower the amount of sodium in your diet.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Consumer Reports, news release, Dec. 1, 2008
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