Sodium Recommendations Are Backed By Science

Zoomed-in image of a microscope lensPosted by AHA Sodium Reduction Initiative Team on April 24, 2017.

There has been a lot of noise lately about how much sodium you should eat. With conflicting headlines out there, it’s hard to know what’s right. Never fear! We’re here to clear up any confusion you might have.

First things first:

The extensive science on sodium reduction is clear.

The excessive levels of sodium we consume can raise blood pressure in many people – a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

This is a conclusion shared by the American Heart Association, numerous government agencies, and a number of major national and international scientific and public health organizations such as the World Health Organization. In fact, more than 30 well-respected nutrition scientists signed a Consensus Statement on Sodium Reduction concluding, “Population-wide reduction of sodium intake is an integral approach to reducing cardiovascular disease events and mortality in the United States.”

What about studies with conflicting findings?

Recommendations about how much sodium you should eat are made after experts look at a multitude of studies. Some of these studies are conducted differently, and some even have conflicting results.

The good news? At the American Heart Association, one study doesn’t dictate sodium recommendations. Instead, experts look at many studies, examine whether the study was reviewed by other experts (called “peer review”), and look at the way the study was carried out. That’s because the way that scientific studies are carried out can limit some studies’ usefulness for drawing broader conclusions about sodium and health, and for guiding public health policy decisions. We want to ensure the recommendation we give you are clear and based on the best science available.

So, how much sodium should you eat?

Many well-respected scientific and professional health organizations recommend limits on how much sodium you should eat. Despite ongoing scientific conversation about optimal target levels, ALL of the recommendations are at least 1,000 milligrams a day lower than the average American’s daily sodium intake nearly 3,500 milligrams. Excess sodium intake is a major public health problem, leading to elevated blood pressure and deadly consequences.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day – or about a teaspoon — and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults from all sources including what’s food product you eat and what you add at the table or when cooking.

And, we know that the majority of the sodium we consume doesn’t come from the salt shaker. That’s why we want to lower sodium in the food supply.

How are we doing it? We are asking food companies to offer healthier options for processed and restaurant foods.

You can join us and take action today!

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