The American Heart Association recommends that we should consume less than 1500 mg of sodium per day. However, the average American consumes over 3400 mg of sodium daily. Sodium is hidden in many foods, and the sodium content is extremely high in restaurant foods, prepared or canned foods, soups and condiments. There is about 600 mg in a ¼ tsp of table salt, so be careful not to add salt to your foods! Substitute pepper, seasonings or lemon juice to add some flavor to your foods.
Why is this so important? Taking in too much salt can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack, stroke and can also damage the kidneys. Excess sodium intake leads to fluid retention, and as more fluid is added to the vascular system, the blood pressure will rise. Hypertension makes the heart work harder, damages the blood vessels, and can eventually lead to a heart attack. High blood pressure is also hard on the kidneys and is a risk factor for stroke.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, if Americans reduced their salt intake by 1200 mg per day, we could greatly improve our health. We could decrease the number of coronary heart disease patients by 90,000 a year; the number of stokes by 49,000 a year; the number of heart attacks by 76,000 a year; the number of deaths from all causes by 68,000 a year. Now, that is a pretty good reason to put down the salt shaker!
Answer submitted by Melissa Leguillon APN, CNP, Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner at Provena Mercy Medical Center