Most Americans’ salt intake too high to be safe, IOM says

(MarketWatch Health Watch) The processed food you buy soon may get an overhaul as public-health experts look for ways to lower Americans’ salt intake. On Tuesday, experts from the Institute of Medicine called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate sodium levels in food, saying widespread salt reduction could prevent 100,000 deaths a year.

Sodium is a common ingredient in food but too much of it can lead to high blood pressure, which raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney failure.

About one in three American adults has high blood pressure. After age 50 even people with healthy blood pressure face long odds of maintaining it as they age.

“Clearly, salt is essential. It is a good thing. We need it,” Jane E. Henney, professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati and chair of the IOM’s committee on strategies to reduce sodium intake, said during a conference call with reporters. “But at the levels we’re taking it in right now it’s far beyond the maximal level we need….Too much of a good thing really puts us at risk.”

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Read the full Institute Of Medicine Report » 

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