The numbers are so large they are hard to believe. Cutting just a bit of salt from our daily diets – 3 grams, or about a teaspoon – could help prevent as many as 99,000 heart attacks, 66,000 strokes and and 92,000 deaths a year in the United States.
Women would benefit the most.
And the financial estimate of what could be saved is huge as well: an estimated $24 billion in health costs.
Salt. Just salt.
Believe it. From a Reuters story:
“The benefit to the U.S. population would be comparable to cutting smoking by 50 percent, significantly lowering obesity rates and giving cholesterol drugs to virtually everyone to prevent heart attacks, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo of the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues.
“Such a goal, they said, is readily attainable.
“Salt, which contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease, is widely overused in the United States, with 75 to 80 percent coming from processed food. Men typically consume 10.4 grams per day. For women, the average is 7.3 grams. Its use is rising.”
The report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Most of the salt in the American diet, however, comes from packaged, processed and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker. Just a couple of weeks ago, the city of New York announced a major effort to help Americans lower the amount of salt in our diets.
From an EmpowHER article about that program:
"Salt is a huge problem in our diets," Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told CNN. "The majority of us consume too much salt, which increases blood pressure and puts us at risk for heart attack and stroke."
The city health department is taking the lead in a national effort to help Americans lower the amount of salt in their diets. By partnering with cities, states and health departments across the country, they hope to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over 5 years.
The researchers established a unique computer model with which to do their study. From ABC News: