Now, the FDA has issued new guidelines to target the sodium hiding in our diets:
Too much salt can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, as many research studies have demonstrated. "Experts at the Institute of Medicine have concluded that reducing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day can significantly help Americans reduce their blood pressure and ultimately prevent hundreds of thousands of premature illnesses and deaths," Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement.
The FDA says the goal is to reduce Americans' salt consumption over the next decade to 2,300 mg a day. Currently, Americans consume a lot more on average — about 3,400 mg a day (that's about a teaspoon and a half). The vast majority of our sodium intake — about 75 percent — comes not from the salt shaker, but from processed and restaurant foods, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Slashing the average sodium intake by just 400 mg per day could potentially prevent as many as 28,000 deaths annually, according to an op-ed by CDC Director Thomas Frieden and colleagues that was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.