Salt shaker Ottawa Heart Institute

A Salty Tale: Too Much Sodium Linked to 1.65 Million Deaths Annually

Each year 1.65 million people die worldwide from high-sodium diets that lead to heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease. A new Harvard University review of existing research has found that most people eat far more salt than recommended, and salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure—a primary cause of cardiovascular disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 2 grams of sodium per day. The worldwide average is almost twice that at 3.95 grams. In North America, daily sodium consumption is 3.6 grams, or 80 per cent over WHO recommendations. The result is more than 10,000 Canadian and American deaths each year that can be tied to salt-related cardiovascular disease.

The good news is that the study found a direct relationship between reduced sodium consumption and lower blood pressure. While the effect may not be quite as direct in every person, chances are that you can benefit from reducing the amount of salt you eat.

Here are some ways to reduce salt in your diet:

  • Use fresh or dried herbs, unsalted spices, lemon juice, and flavoured vinegars to boost flavour
  • Reduce or limit salt in cooking and avoid adding salt at the table
  • Prepare meals using fresh, unprocessed ingredients
  • Rinse and drain canned peas and beans
  • Read nutrition labels, compare similar items, and choose foods with less sodium

Visit the Heart Institute’s Prevention and Wellness Centre for information on healthy eating, keeping your blood pressure on target, and much more.

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