Hold the salt.

Americans are eating far more salt than is healthy, and those for whom it's especially dangerous  (including the elderly, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure) are consuming twice as much as they should, federal health officials warned yesterday. Too much salt raises the risk of hypertension, which is linked to heart disease and stroke.
“It’s important for people to eat less salt. People who adopt a heart healthy eating pattern that includes a diet low in sodium and rich in potassium and calcium can improve their blood pressure,” Darwin Labarthe, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, said in a statement released after the agency reported on the trend in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). “Reducing sodium intake can prevent or delay increases in blood pressure for everyone.’’

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams or one teaspoon of salt a day; those at risk of sodium-related conditions—an estimated two-thirds of U.S. adults—are advised to eat no more than 1,500 mgs daily. But average daily salt intake in the U.S. in 2006 (the latest stats available) was a whopping 3,456 mgs a day, according to the MMWR report. New federal dietary guidelines are expected next year.

Image of salt shaker © iStockphoto/Camilla Wisbauer