A new study has clarified the dangers associated with consuming too much salt. The finding: excessive sodium consumption accounts for roughly one in ten cardiovascular deaths each year.
The study was carried out by a research team from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, which is based at Tufts University in Medford, Maryland. The team’s leader, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, says that while it’s been known for some time that consuming too much salt can be dangerous, “the effects of excess sodium intake on cardiovascular diseases globally by age, sex, and nation had not been well established.”
To find out more about how salt affects the heart, Mozaffarian and his team analyzed data from more than 200 surveys examining sodium intake. They also studied nutrition data from around the world to see how salt intake can vary by age, gender, and country.
The researchers’ findings were shocking: in 2010, the average sodium intake was just under four grams per day — which is roughly double the recommendation set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In no part of the world were people consuming less than two grams of sodium per day. Only people in sub-Saharan Africa, where people typically consume 2.2 grams of sodium per day, did people even come close to the recommended limit. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Central Asia, where people typically consume more than 5.5 grams of sodium each day.
The research team determined that this excess intake of salt could be associated with 1.65 million cardiovascular-related deaths each year. That represents about 1 in 10 deaths from cardiovascular causes.
Medical experts, including University of Cambridge public health researcher John Powles, believe the study’s findings show that there needs to be more emphasis on the dangers associated with consuming too much salt. “These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium … across the world,” Powles said.