What are the health risks associated with consuming too much sodium?

Sodium intake from processed foods and from restaurants contributes to high rates of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Because nearly 500,000 deaths each year are related to high blood pressure, reducing sodium intake could prevent thousands of deaths a year. Salt, also known as sodium chloride, contains approximately 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It gives flavor to foods and is used as a binder and stabilizer.

It is also a food preservative, as bacteria cannot thrive in the presence of a large amount of salt. The human body needs a small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. It is estimated that we need about 500 mg of sodium a day for these vital functions. However, too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.

It can also cause calcium losses, some of which can be removed from the bones. Most Americans consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt a day, or about 3400 mg of sodium, which contains much more than our bodies need. Eating too much salt in the long term can increase blood pressure and increase the risk of stomach cancer. It can also increase the risk of heart disease and premature death, although more research is needed to confirm this.

They also found that a higher sodium-to-potassium ratio was associated with a higher risk of CVD, that is, eating a higher proportion of salty foods than of foods rich in potassium, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products.

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