If the entire country, would commit to cutting back on a bit of salt, the number of heart attacks and strokes in the US would decrease considerably.
A new study by the New England Journal of Medicine says heart disease could decline by up to 13 percent if adults could just slash their daily salt intake by 3 grams, or about 1,200 milligrams of sodium. New cases of heart disease and the number of strokes could also be expected to decline, by up to 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
Even a reduction in daily salt intake of just 1 gram (or about 400 milligrams of sodium) would produce “large declines” in the rates of cardiovascular events, according to the study. Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which triples your risk of developing heart disease, whatever your age.
“Just targeting slightly lower salt intake would have some benefit for everyone in the U.S.,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is the ideal type of intervention for those interested in public health to get behind, because the effects would be so dramatic.”
The study suggests that food manufacturers would need to be the primary target of the projected reduction in salt intake, since processed foods — and not the salt in your salt shaker — account for between 75 to 80 percent of American salt consumption.
Families are buying foods at the grocery store which are already loaded with unhealthy amounts of salt. Items such as ready meals, sauces, baked beans and pizza are just some of the foods with hidden salt. Almost everyone uses the foods even if they make most of their food from scratch. Consuming foods that are high in salt has a negative affect on your overall health and causes your medical insurance to go up. Americans make more than 72 million doctor visits every year for treatment and management of cardiovascular diseases, and medical insurance companies often increase everyone’s health insurance premiums to cover the cost.
Experts also say a quarter million deaths from strokes could be prevented if Americans start consuming less salt. The death statistics of eating too much salt is not the only burden; healthcare cost are also extraordinarily high. According the the Center for Disease Control, heart disease and stroke in the United States, including health care expenditures and lost productivity from deaths and disability, was projected to be more than $475 billion last year.
There are certainly initiatives the entire country can make to improve everyone’s health. In the meantime, there are lots of simple ways to reduce the amount of salt you eat which will in turn improve your health and also save money with health insurance plans from companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Health Care. Here are a few tips to help you cut back on salt intake:
If you’re choosing a ready meal or a ready-made pasta sauce, compare different types and choose the one that is lower in salt.
Try not to add salt automatically when you’re cooking or about to eat. Often people only use salt out of habit.
Buy reduced salt or low sodium whenever you can in meats and other foods.
Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table.
Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings — these often have a lot of sodium