Less salt, more life

Study models potential of reducing average American’s sodium intake

If Americans reduced their consumption of sodium to the upper limits of federal recommendations, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved, a study finds.

Researchers from UC San Francisco, Harvard Medical School and Simon Fraser University in Canada each used different computer models to project what a society-wide reduction in sodium intake would mean for stroke and heart-disease rates, according to a UCSF press release.

All three models found that if sodium intake was reduced to the high-end of federal guidelines—2,300 milligrams a day—500,000 to 850,000 lives would be saved over the next 10 years. The average American consumes about 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day, and American men consume roughly twice the federal recommendation. Approximately 80 percent of the sodium consumed comes from processed foods.

High sodium intake has been strongly linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.