(NewsUSA) - "Lose the salt shaker, and you'll improve your health," said David H. Stone, MD, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. "Adding table salt (sodium chloride) to your food increases your overall salt intake, especially when eating out or when consuming ready-to-eat foods. When it comes to salt, less is more."
As a vascular surgeon, Dr. Stone knows that increased salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, the condition can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
Hypertension is defined as blood pressure that is measured at more than 140 / 90. High blood pressure affects 74.5 million or one-third of American adults, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010."
The National Institutes of Health recommends that Americans consume one tablespoon (2,400 milligrams) or less of salt per day. For at-risk Americans -- which includes about half the U.S. population (African Americans, people over age 51, people with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease) -- the daily salt recommendation is 1,500 milligrams or less.
As vascular conditions, stroke and heart attack are among the leading causes of death in American adults. On average, American adults consume 3,266 milligrams of salt daily according to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Seventy-five percent of daily salt intake comes from prepared foods from restaurants or stores.
The five most consumed salt culprits are:
* Bread and rolls
* Cold cuts/cultured meats
* Fresh and processed poultry
In an effort to prevent one million strokes and heart attacks over the next five years, sodium reduction is a goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Million Hearts initiative co-led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A reduction of 11 percent (360 milligrams) of salt daily could avert 28,000 deaths and save $7 billion in healthcare costs annually.
"Overall, fresh fruits, vegetables and meats prepared in the home are the healthiest choices," said Dr. Stone.
For information on nutrition and vascular health, log onto the Society for Vascular Surgery website, www.vascularweb.org.