Salt To Blame For 2.3 Million Deaths Worldwide

salt
Soon after sugary drinks were linked to 180,000 deaths a year, salt arose as the next, most dangerous challenger. Creative Commons/Jorge Royan

It's a battle of the condiments. Soon after sugary drinks were linked to 180,000 deaths a year, salt arose as the next, most dangerous challenger. 

According to a Harvard study, excessive salt consumption is at the heart of 2.3 million deaths worldwide. That means one in 10 Americans are dying from consuming too much salt.

"Much confusion was caused by a recent, widely quoted report concluding that lower salt intakes were associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease," said Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. "This new study is much larger and controlled for key factors that were ignored in the previous report."

Researchers found that a diet consisting of high sodium and low potassium put individuals at a 20 percent risk of dying from heart attacks or other diseases compared to low-salt consumers.

High-salt levels are also evidently impacting children. In another study by the Centers for Disease Control, three-quarters of ready-to-eat meals for toddlers contained 630 milligrams of sodium per serving, which translates to 40 percent of the daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association. This could lead them to develop hypertension as they get older.

To cut these risks, the CDC asks people to limit their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day in their diets. 

The solution to switch from processed foods to more fruits and vegetables is easier said than done, as a common excuse for eating junk food over healthier options is the high cost of natural produce and organic food. There are even hidden salts lurking in the most common places, as in this list of sneaky foods with more salt than potato chips.

"For the average person, it's very hard to avoid salt -- you have to be incredibly motivated, incredibly educated, have access to a range of foods and do all the cooking yourself,"Dariush Mozaffarian, an epidemiologist at Harvard, tells ABC News.

The researchers at the school of public health joined The Culinary Institute of America and cooked up ways to cut salt while pleasing your taste buds in 25 science-based steps. 

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