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Dietary salt is killing Americans and people all over the world at a disgusting rate. The body can get all the sodium that it needs from foods, but the salt (sodium chloride – NaCl) that’s added to processed foods and restaurant meals is the key factor in high blood pressure (hypertension), the silent killer that takes more than 7  million lives every year. More personal injuries and wrongful deaths are caused by excessive salt consumption forced on the public than defective products.The amount of sodium that Americans consume is much higher than the recommended guidelines of the Institute of Medicine. While those guidelines call for limiting daily consumption to 1.5 grams of sodium or 1500 mgms, the IOM found that more than 95 percent of American men ages 31 to 50, and 75 percent of American women in that age range regularly consume even more salt than the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of 5.8 grams or 5,800 mgs per day.

You are eating massive amounts of damaging salt so that major food processors can make billions. Processed foods are a $500 billion business, at least 5 times larger than fresh produce. If it comes in a jar, a can, or a package, it has excessive salt. All canned soups, mustard, bottled salsa, V-8 juice, crackers, and cereals included.

Food processors know that salt is addictive. People are so accustomed to the taste of salt that they believe cannot enjoy foods without it. So, the processors dump on the salt and keep their customers coming back for more.

“A pinch of salt” is a popular idiom that suggests skepticism in believing things. An inch of salt is a more accurate description of the quantities of salt that food processors dump into everything.

An inch of skepticism is clearly a good idea for anyone who reads the propaganda from the Salt Institute, a trade organization that represents salt producers. According to the manipulators at the Salt Institute, more salt is always better, and they’ve been very successful in marketing their product.

Despite all the evidence of the injuries and death done by salt, consumption is increasing. Since the 1970’s, Americans’ salt consumption has risen by 50 percent, and the incidence of high blood pressure has risen by nearly the same amount.

One enlightened voice speaking out against the hazards of salt is Dr. James Kenney, the Nutrition Research Specialist for the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida. He says “salt is a serial killer.”

Following his own advice, Dr. Kenney has improved his health tremendously, losing weight and lowering his blood pressure. In a course entitled Diet, Hypertension and Salt Toxicity offered through Food & Health Communications, he writes that the average American consumes from 3,000 to 5,000 mg of sodium per day. Of that amount, 10% comes naturally from foods. Another 15-20% comes from the salt shaker, and 75% comes from processed foods and meals consumed away from the home.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognizes the public health problem that excessive salt consumption is causing, and he recently declared war on salt, asking manufacturers to reduce salt content by 50% over 10 years. Researchers support the mayor, saying that a small reduction in salt consumption can have significant health benefits for the entire American population.

When Mayor Bloomberg called for a salt reduction, the Salt Institute, defending the profits made by killing you with salt, attacked. Salt Institute President Richard Hanneman sent a letter to Dr. Thomas Frieden, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York, condemning the mayor’s idea and using an outrageously convoluted and illogical argument that reducing salt intake might actually increase blood pressure in some people.

Hypertension always has been associated with adults and 90% of Americans over 65 are either on medications or soon will be. There is an epidemic of hypertension in all the developed countries. Wherever you find a Western diet and processed foods, there is HBP. More tragically the disease is now showing up frequently in young children, and studies are showing that these children often have trouble with memory and thinking.

Processed foods marketed to children are dosed with sugar, fat, and salt. The result is that a huge number of children are now growing up with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Salt is killing people and reducing the quality of life through high blood pressure a rat’s nest of severe injuries: strokes, kidney disease, diabetes, and obesity. Excess sodium causes fluid retention, which results in weight gain. Being overweight substantially increases the probability of diabetes and that means death from coronary heart disease. It’s a dangerous cycle. Simply zeroing out sodium intake lowers the likelihood of developing these diseases. You will get enough salt from eating salads and vegetables, without the oil-laden dressings and butter, once you start eating salt-free.

But don’t expect the food processors or the Salt Institute to support public health by reducing salt consumption and disease. They’re only interested in their fees protecting the companies who make their profits salting you to death.

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Richard Alexander