And that sucks, because consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is in turn linked to heart disease, the leading cause of Grim Reaper visits in the United States. So there's no problem with trying to avoid as much salt as possible, is there, asks the poor man still posing a rhetorical question in a Cracked article and expecting a positive answer. Well, is there?The Dark Side
A recent study that monitored the salt intake and ongoing health of 100,000 people discovered that those who were least likely to die from heart disease or stroke had a sodium intake of between 3 and 6 grams per day. Another 2011 study of patients with high blood pressure found that their risk of stroke and heart attacks increased when they consumed over 7 grams per day, butit also increased when the subjects consumed under 3 grams. In other words, the American Heart Association's 1.5-gram figure seems to put most people firmly within the salt danger zone, not out of it.
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I imagine the salt danger zone looks like this.
That's not too surprising, because according to a doctor who led an Institute of Medicine committee on salt consumption, 1.5 grams is the smallest amount of salt a human can consume while still getting the nutrients they need to survive.
So why is the AHA recommending starvation-level salt figures? It seems pretty harsh until you figure out what's really going on here. Much like a teacher who desperately sets 10 chapters of textbook reading every night in the hope that his lazy students will panic and at least skim a few pages, the AHA, knowing that Americans love salt, is presumably throwing out a low figure with the assumption that most people will ignore it anyway. And for the most part, they've been right: despite the AHA's decades of continued warnings, American salt consumption hasn't changed in 50 years.