US GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO DRASTICALLY CUT YOUR SALT INTAKE
For the first time, the U.S. government is advising that more than half of the American population needs to drastically cut their daily salt intake.
According to new dietary guidelines, those who are most at risk for high blood pressure; including those over the age of 51; African-Americans; those suffering from hypertension; diabetes or chronic kidney disease, which together make up half the U.S. population are being urged to consume only about a half a teaspoon of salt a day.
The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments issue the guidelines every five years, and recommends that everyone else stick to the “teaspoon a day” guideline of 2,300 milligrams, which is about one-third less than the average person usually consumes.
The assault on salt is aimed strongly at the food industry, which is responsible for the majority of sodium most people consume. Most salt intake doesn't come from the shaker on the table; it's hidden in foods such as breads, chicken and pasta.
It has long been known that too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and other problems. But cutting the salt won't be easy.
The prestigious Institute of Medicine has said it could take years for consumers to get used to the taste of a lower-salt diet. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the government is trying to be realistic while targeting the highest-risk groups.
"I think it's important for us to do this in a way that doesn't create an immediate backlash," he said. "If we fail to get our arms around the obesity epidemic, especially in our children, we're going to see a significant increase in health care costs over time."
Several large food companies have already introduced initiatives to cut sodium and introduced low-sodium alternatives, but it's unclear if the industry will be able to cut enough to satisfy the new guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration has said it will pressure companies to take voluntary action before it moves to regulate salt intake.