Minimizing Salt Intake Considered Beneficial in Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

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A low-sodium diet is beneficial for preventing heart disease, yet many individuals are consuming excessive amounts of salt. Research indicates that nine out of ten heart disease patients exceed recommended salt intake levels by more than double.

Limiting salt intake recommended for a healthy heart

The US Department of Agriculture advises limiting salt intake to 2,300 mg/day for healthy individuals, equivalent to about one teaspoon of table salt per day. Those with heart disease should adhere to stricter guidelines, aiming for no more than 1,500 mg/day, as per the US Dietary Guidelines.

A recent study found that most Americans exceed the recommended daily salt intake, particularly those with heart disease. The study, involving 3,100 participants, revealed that 89% of individuals with heart disease consumed more than 1,500 mg of salt per day. On average, participants reported consuming 3,096 mg of sodium daily, slightly below the national average of 3,400 mg/day according to the US CDC.

Dr. Elsie Kodjoe, MD, MPH, an internal medicine resident at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital in Georgia, highlights the difficulty of estimating sodium content in meals. Despite the aid of food labels, adhering to a low sodium diet remains challenging, especially for those with cardiovascular disease, who have a strong incentive to do so.

Importance of limiting salt intake for balanced blood pressure

Limiting salt intake is crucial for heart health because while sodium is an essential nutrient, excessive consumption can lead to adverse effects. Salt is necessary for muscle function, fluid balance, and nerve signaling. However, overuse of salt can elevate blood pressure, potentially damaging blood vessels and placing strain on the heart. Additionally, excessive salt intake may result in fluid retention, exacerbating conditions such as heart failure.

Kodjoe points out that individuals with cardiovascular disease are not significantly reducing their sodium intake compared to the general population. They are consuming over double the recommended amount. To improve adherence to dietary guidelines, it is suggested to develop practical methods for estimating sodium levels or to reduce sodium content in food at the source.

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