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A new study shows how a cut
of just three grams of salt a day could prevent tens of thousands of deaths
among Americans each year.
Even a small reduction in salt in the diet can be a big help to the heart. A
new study used a computer model to predict how just three grams less a day
would affect heart disease in the United States.
The result: thirteen percent fewer heart attacks. Eight percent fewer strokes. Four percent fewer deaths. Eleven percent fewer new cases of heart
disease. And two hundred forty billion
dollars in health care savings. Researchers
found it could prevent one hundred thousand heart attacks and ninety-two
thousand deaths every year.
The study is in the New England Journal of Medicine. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo at
the University of California San Francisco, was the lead author. She says people would not even notice a
difference in taste with three grams, or one-half teaspoon, less salt per day.
The team also included researchers at Stanford and Columbia University.
Each gram of salt contains four hundred milligrams of sodium, which is how
foods may list their salt content.
The government says the average American man eats ten grams of salt a day. The
American Heart Association advises no more than three grams for healthy people.
It says salt in the American diet has increased fifty percent since the
nineteen seventies, while blood pressures have also risen. Less salt can mean a
lower blood pressure.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading an effort called the National
Salt Reduction Initiative. The idea is to put pressure on food companies and
restaurants. Critics call it government interference.
Mayor Bloomberg has already succeeded in other areas, like requiring fast food
places in the city to list calorie information. Now a study by the Seattle
Children's Research Institute shows how that idea can influence what parents
order for their children.
Translated by Buasawan Simmala