A survey conducted by the Institute of Medicine concluded that the daily salt consumption recommended by health groups including the American Heart Association isn’t based on the best available science – and is likely exceedingly low. “There’s not a single study showing benefits below 1,500mg [about half a teaspoon],” says Dr. Brian Strom, a professor of public health at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the group that examined the studies. While the survey found that Americans need to consume significantly less sodium – the average American eats about 3,400 mg – the advice to eat less than 1,500 mg is based primarily on risk of hypertension, not heart attack, stroke, or death, says Strom, which are better measurements of heart health. “No one is disagreeing that there’s too much sodium in the American diet,” says Dr. Elliott Antman, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, and Harvard medical school professor. “We need our food manufacturers and restaurants to understand that there’s too much sodium in the diet and not get stuck on a discussion of whether there’s data on 1,500mg.” For the most part, Strom agrees. “The central point is that people who eat a lot of salt should decrease it.”
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