Americans consume nearly two teaspoons of salt daily, which is more than double what they need. Seventy-five percent of that sodium comes from common processed foods.
Public health specialists are currently pressuring the FDA to require food makers to cut the sodium. The American Medical Association says cutting sodium in processed and restaurant foods in half could save 150,000 lives each year.
One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. While being overweight and inactive can raise blood pressure, too much salt can do so as well.
Government guidelines set 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day as the safe upper limit, and the Institute of Medicine says that 1,500 mg a day is sufficient for health. But the average American consumes between 3,300 and 4,000 mg of sodium each day.
* SFGate November 20, 2007