Cutting U.S. salt intake by just half a teaspoon a day would prevent up to 92,000 deaths, 99,000 heart attacks, and 66,000 strokes — a benefit as big as smoking cessation.
That’s the prediction from computer models that used real clinical data to predict the effects of small reductions in salt intake.
“The [ heart] benefits of reduced salt intake are on par with the benefits of population-wide reductions in tobacco use, obesity, and cholesterol levels,” says Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD.
Cutting daily salt intake by a half teaspoon — about 3 grams — would not be enough to bring most Americans down to the goal of 3.7 grams a day recommended for about 70% of adults. It wouldn’t even get us down to the 5.8 grams a day recommended for lowest-risk adults.
That’s because the average U.S. man gets about 10.4 grams a day and the average U.S. woman gets about 7.3 grams a day.
But cutting back by 3 grams, or even just 1 gram, would have huge effects across the population, Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues find.