Americans eat too much salt, and most have no idea how much they are eating, according to new consumer research by the American Heart Association.
Nearly all of the 1,000 people surveyed by the American Heart Association (97 percent) either underestimated or could not estimate how much sodium they eat every day. Too much sodium in the diet can increase risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other major health problems.
Most people who underestimated their sodium consumption in the survey were off by around 1,000 milligrams. That’s a significant amount, considering the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams a day for ideal heart health. Most Americans consume more than double that.
In an effort to help people better understand and limit their sodium intake, the American Heart Association has launched a new awareness campaign called “I Love You Salt, But You’re Breaking My Heart.” The campaign includes a new website, heart.org/sodium, with an online pledge for people to commit to reduce how much sodium they eat, along with a new video, “Don’t Let Salt Sneak Up on You” to show how sodium is sneaking into our foods. The site also features a blog, sodium quiz and infographics, links to lower-sodium recipes, and educational articles.
Limiting salt in the bigger picture—the U.S. food supply—is an important goal of the campaign. That’s because 75 percent of Americans’ sodium consumption is from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods—not the salt shaker.
“It’s challenging for Americans to stick to sodium intake recommendations because most of the sodium we eat in this country is added to our food before we buy it,” said Chrissy Meyer, South Dakota Communications Director for the American Heart Association. “In order to really make a difference in the health of all Americans, we must reduce sodium in the food supply through the support of food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.”