The Center for Disease Control’s current recommendations for how much sodium Americans should eat may be unsafely low, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
The current guidelines suggest that people younger than 50 should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and that people over 50 should have less than 1,500 mg per day. The average American consumes between 2,645 and 4,945 mg of sodium a day.
The new report looked at data from 25 different studies on health risks associated with sodium intake. Over 274,000 people were included in the analysis. Researchers found that even though the average American’s intake is substantially above recommended amounts, it actually resulted in better health outcomes. People who ate amounts of sodium that fell on either side of the average range of 2,645-4,945 had higher mortality. Approximately 95% of the world’s population currently eats within this ‘healthy’ range, according to the study’s authors.
The CDC’s current recommendations are based on prior studies showing that low sodium intake can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. However, the new study’s findings follow a 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine that called the CDC recommendations into question. Whether or not the new results will prompt a change in guidelines remains to be seen.
However, salt may also adversely affect people with certain medical conditions such as heart failure through different mechanisms. No one asked to stay on a low-sodium diet for medical reasons should change their eating habits without consulting a doctor first.