How Much Salt Should You Really Consume?

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A study by the New England Journal of Medicine has found that salt plays a role in 1.5 million heart-related deaths around the world each year. The researchers behind the study are warning Americans of the risks of taking in too much sodium and even advising that thousands of Americans could save their lives if they reduced their sodium intake by half.

“Americans eat almost three to four times the recommended daily amount of salt,” said Dr. Tara Narula, a New York City-based cardiologist, to CBS News. “Salt is an essential nutrient, but what happens when you get too much salt is it raises your blood volume, and that increased blood volume causes increased blood pressure. And that’s really the link.”

Sodium increases your blood pressure by holding in the excess fluid in your body. This increased blood pressure adds stress to your heart and is responsible for various symptoms and conditions, including artery disease, heart attacks, stroke, enlarged heart muscle, headaches, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney stones, and kidney damage.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), people should be consuming less than 1,500 millgrams of sodium each day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cites 2,300 milligrams per day, while the World Health Organization says it should be 2,000 milligrams. How can you determine your salt intake? Table salt (also known as sodium chloride) is 40 percent sodium. This means that half a teaspoon of salt is equivalent to 1,150 milligrams of sodium, and three-fourths of a teaspoon of salt is 1,725 milligrams of sodium.