Yet another study has found the amount of salt most healthy Americans consume each day is not a cause for concern, when it comes to blood pressure.
The new findings, published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, suggest eating 3,000 milligrams per day of salt or more appears to have no adverse effect on blood pressure in adolescent girls.
The average American consumes between 3,000 and 3,500 mg per day of salt. The current federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans eat no more than 2,300 mg per day — about the same amount as in a teaspoon.
But recent research suggests up to 6,000 mg per day pose no risk for healthy people and that, in fact, individuals who consume less than 3,000 may be put their health at risk.
For the latest study, Lynn L. Moore of the Boston University School of Medicine examined the long-term effects of dietary sodium and potassium on blood pressure at the end of adolescence.
They used data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Growth and Health Study, which included 2,185 black and white girls (ages 9 to 10) who were followed up for 10 years.
The results indicated there was no evidence that higher sodium intakes (3,000 to 4,000 mg per day had a negative effect on adolescent blood pressure. Some analysis showed that those girls consuming 3,500 mg per day or more of salt had generally lower diastolic blood pressures than girls who consumed less than 2,500 mg per day.
Overall, girls in the highest category of potassium intake (2,400 mg per day or more) had lower late-adolescent systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those girls who consumed less potassium, the results show.
Girls who consumed the most sodium and potassium consumed the most calories too, along with the most dairy, fruits, vegetables and fiber, according to the results.
"This prospective study showed that black and white adolescent girls who consumed more dietary potassium had lower BPs [blood pressures] in later adolescence. In contrast, the data indicated no overall effect of sodium intake alone on BP, and, thus do not support the call for a global reduction in sodium intake among children and adolescents,” the researchers concluded.
“This study emphasizes the need to develop methods for estimating salt sensitivity to be used in future studies of high-risk populations and points to the potential health risks associated with the existing low dietary potassium intakes among U.S. children and adolescents."
The upshot: Americans with high blood pressure must still be careful about salt intake, but the amounts most healthy Americans consume are generally safe.
But even low-salt diets doesn’t move needle much: An average person who reduces his or her salt intake from median levels to recommended levels may see only a minor drop in blood pressure from 120/80 to 118/79, AHA says.
Experts also note that it’s not the salt you add to food at the table that is typically a problem; it’s the hidden sodium in processed foods (70 percent of which have too much) that can boost your salt intake.
• Talk to your doctor, to determine whether you should worry about your salt intake.
• Eat fewer foods out of a box, bag, or can, which are likely to be loaded with added sodium.
• Don’t worry so much about adding salt at table.
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