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Reduce Sodium Intake, Reduce Heart Disease

Almost everything we eat contains at least a little sodium, although many foods, especially the processed variety, contain way too much. Our bodies only need about 500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day; although current dietary recommendations allow for 2,000 ­ 4,000 mg (1-2 teaspoons of salt), statistics show that the average adult consumes almost double that amount on a daily basis.

Limiting your sodium intake can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, especially if you¹re overweight, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers estimated dietary sodium intake in 2,688 overweight subjects and 6,797 nonoverweight subjects, then assessed the incidence of and/or death from cardiovascular disease over 19 years of follow-up.

Results: Among overweight participants, a relatively small increase in sodium intake was associated with substantial increases in disease risk: a 32% higher risk of stroke; a 44% higher risk of heart disease; a 61% higher risk of death from heart disease; and a 39% higher risk of death from all causes. Dietary sodium intake was not significantly associated with cardiovascular disease risk in nonoverweight participants.

If you already have high blood pressure or a developing heart condition, restricting your sodium intake is even more imperative. Your doctor can give you more information on sodium and provide nutritional guidelines suitable to your specific needs.


He J, Ogden LG, Vupputuri S, et al. Dietary sodium intake and subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease in overweight adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 1, 1999: Vol. 282, No. 21, pp2027-34.