Column: Too much salt can cause serious health problems
If you like salt on your food, or salty foods in general, you aren't alone. But as Americans become more aware of the consequences dietary choices have on their health, salt intake is an issue. Do you know how much salt you should eat daily? What's the target, and where do you fall against that? The Arizona Department of Health Services website has a wealth of information on this topic, at www.azdhs.gov/salt/index.htm.
Eating too much salt can be bad for your health. Salt is sodium and chloride. Sodium can increase your blood pressure and the chances of you having a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Arizona.
National dietary guidelines recommend that many adults eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. For best health, some adults should eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. You should limit your sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day if:
You are 40 years of age or older;
You are African American;
You have high blood pressure.
Recent reports highlight how important it is to limit the sodium in your foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a 2009 study in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that shows two out of three adults (69 percent) should eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. These groups are at especially high risk for health problems from eating too much sodium.
In January 2010, the New England Journal of Medicine published a research study that showed reducing dietary sodium by 1,200 milligrams of sodium (3 grams of salt or about the amount of sodium in a slice and a half of pepperoni pizza) per day may reduce both coronary heart disease and stroke. In Arizona, this could reduce new cases of coronary artery disease up to 2,500 per year, reduce the number of strokes by up to 1,400, decrease heart attacks by up to 2,000, and save $207-$497 million in health costs each year.
The Counselor's Column is a weekly feature in the Daily Courier. If you have a question or topic that you would like addressed, contact West Yavapai Guidance Clinic through www.wygc.org.