Adding Too Much Salt All Too Common Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/29/2005 9:25:26 PM

News You Can Use For May 2005

"Nearly all Americans consume much more salt than they need," says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames. Using more salt (sodium chloride) increases the risk of high blood pressure, and using less salt reduces the risk of high blood pressure.

Many adults develop hypertension as they age. More than one of every three American adults currently has high blood pressure. This includes about two of every three Americans over age 65. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, once you reach age 55, your chances of developing high blood pressure are nine out of 10.

Dietary sources of sodium include 77 percent in food processing, 12 percent as naturally occurring, 6 percent at the table and 5 percent during cooking.

"Since so much salt is added in processed foods, it’s important to read the Nutrition Facts on food labels to find out the amount of sodium a serving of food contains," Reames emphasizes.

One of the Key Recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day. Choose and prepare foods with little salt.

The Dietary Guidelines also recommend that people with hypertension, blacks and middle-aged and older adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.

Potassium is an element found in foods that blunts the effects of salt on blood pressure. Other health benefits of potassium consumption include reduced risk of developing kidney stones and decreased bone loss with age.

Reames says the best food sources of potassium include leafy green vegetables, fruit from vines and root vegetables. Meat, milk and cereals contain potassium, but the nutrient is not as readily available as from fruits and vegetables.

The recommended daily potassium intake is 4,700 mg/day for adults and adolescents. For children, recommendations are 3,000 mg/day (ages 1-3), 3,800 mg/day (ages 4-8) and 4,500 mg/day (ages 9-13).

Besides consuming less salt and more potassium, Reames says to lower blood pressure and prevent or delay onset of high blood pressure by losing excess weight and increasing physical activity.

For additional information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, contact the LSU AgCenter Extension agent in your parish. For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or

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