The Great Salt Debate: How Much Sodium is Too Much for Your Diet?

Americans eat, on average, more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day — much more than the 2,300-mg current recommended limit for many people. But whether this amount increases a person’s risk of heart disease is now being hotly debated by researchers.

There’s no doubt that eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, said Dr. Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University. And because sodium can cause high blood pressure, it’s important to reduce sodium intake to cut heart disease risk, Whelton said in a debate Tuesday (Nov. 10), here at this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting.

Whelton was the principal investigator on the recent Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), which made news when it was abruptly cut short because the results were so significant. In the trial, the researchers found that reducing people’s blood pressure with medication to 120 mm Hg or below, rather than aiming to reduce blood pressure to 140 mm Hg, significantly reduced people’s risk of death during the study period.

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