Americans aren’t the only one’s eating too much salt. The abundance of processed foods and junk food in America and other areas of the world is usually the culprit. Salt is very dangerous, particularly to cardiovascular health. A high sodium diet increases the chance of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure. But this isn’t just a problem in the U.S. Eating too much salt kills over a million worldwide, according to a new study. 1.65 million per year is the figure researchers came up with.
The study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that around the globe people consume on average 3,950 milligrams of sodium per day. In most places, 2,000-5,500 milligrams of salt is consumed depending up on the region. This is double what the World Health Organization recommends. The study directly links these 1.65 million deaths per year to an over-consumption of salt. Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and study author, Dariush Mozaffarian, told NPR,
“That’s remarkably high, that’s almost 1 in 10 of all cardiovascular deaths around the world.” He went on to say, “This suggests that a single factor in the diet [salt] could be contributing to almost 10 percent of the cardiovascular burden.”
Isolating data in 66 different countries, Mozaffarian and his colleagues collected sodium consumption on each. 100 previous studies were also analyzed to understand the effects of sodium intake on cardiovascular disease. The breakdown is slightly different depending upon the region of the world.
- In the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia, 10% of deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease in those ages 70 and under are due to a high sodium diet.
- From Eastern Europe to Central and Eastern Asia 20-25% of deaths are attributable to sodium intake that is way too high.
Mozaffarian says, “What seems to be linking those countries [in this band] … is that this is the Old Silk Road [trade] route, where people traveled many distances and needed salt to preserve their food.”
Even hundreds of years later, this tradition is still going strong. The link between salt intake and cardiovascular disease is at its height when the blood pressure is high. A good nutrient to lower blood pressure is potassium, which is found in a lot of fruits and vegetables. So if you do not have high blood pressure, a diet with 3,500 milligrams of salt, generally found in the American diet, is okay. McMaster University’s Dr. Salim Yusuf who led this study said that it is better to, instead of trying to limit salt intake, focus on eating healthy overall instead.