CDC Salt Guidelines Too Low for Good Health, Study Suggests


There's an ongoing debate in the medical community about how much sodium per day is healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that healthy people consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. And anyone over age 50 or who already has high blood pressure should limit sodium to 1,500 mg a day.

But that recommendation was recently challenged in a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension. Researchers looked at sodium intake and health of an estimated 275,000 people. And they found that too little sodium (less than 2,645 mg per day) or too much sodium (more than 4,945 mg per day) increased the risk of death and health-related complications.

The study suggests that the sodium recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are below the ideal range for best health. And that's good news, because most people consume an average of 3,500 mg of sodium per day found in foods like breads, chips, cheese, processed meats, and frozen meals.

How much sodium do you consume in a day? The truth is, most people don't know. But it's an important number to be familiar with to protect your health. Read food labels or use a nutrition-based mobile app or website to help you calculate your sodium intake per day, and adjust your eating habits if you need to.

What does this mean to you? While the study contradicts health advice and policy in the US, it likely won't change policy. Which means your doctor will still be telling you to keep that salt down, especially since research shows that high levels of sodium in your diet can increase the risk for high blood pressure, damage your arteries, kidneys, and eyes, and cause a heart attack or stroke.

And in that case, What's for dinner? How about a meal that includes a BBQ Chicken Breast Patty served with Diced Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli or Char-broiled Steak with Carrots and Brussels sprouts? While a restaurant version of this type of meal might max out the amount of dietary sodium you should consume in a day, these low-sodium meals contain less than 300 mg of sodium in a single serving.