Among Hispanics and blacks, sodium consumption increased 26 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Among whites, sodium consumption increased 2 percent, the researchers found.
“Whites always had a higher salt consumption, so it’s not like they’re in a good place, it’s more like they were in a bad place and stayed there, and blacks and Hispanics caught up from being in a better place to being in a bad place as well,” Bansilal said.
People with the lowest salt consumption included those who had already had a heart attack or stroke, those taking blood pressure medications, people with diabetes, obese people and those with heart failure, he said.
“At least these people seemed to have taken the message to heart and have lowered their salt intake, so that’s reassuring,” Bansilal said.
For people without high blood pressure, U.S. dietary guidelines recommend a daily maximum of one teaspoon of salt a day (2,300 mg of sodium), Bansilal said.
Samantha Heller is senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. She said, “You may not think you are eating too much salt, but consider this: just one teaspoon of table salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.”
And, she added, most of the sodium in your diet probably doesn’t come from your salt shaker.
“Over 75 percent of the salt we eat comes from packaged and prepared foods. Only about 15 to 20 percent comes from the salt shaker,” Heller said.
Sources of high-salt foods include highly processed, store-bought and prepared foods, such as soups, pizza, breads, sauces and cold cuts. Sodium is also in products such as baking soda, baking powder, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate, garlic salt, sodium benzoate and other additives, she said.
“Because some of these compounds are added to foods for shelf-life, texture and as a preservative or flavor enhancer, the food may not taste salty,” Heller said. “That does not mean that the salt content is not high.”
The World Health Organization predicts that an estimated 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level.