New dietary guidelines issued by the government urge Americans to drastically cut down on the amount of salt they eat.
The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments advised people age 51 and older, all African-Americans, and anyone suffering from hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease to limit salt intake to a little more than half a teaspoon a day.
All others should limit salt intake to one teaspoon daily -- about one-third less than the average person usually consumes.
To reduce the risk of disease from high sodium intake, the guidelines say people should:
- Read nutrition labels closely and buy items labeled low in sodium.
- Use little or no salt when cooking or eating.
- Consume more fresh or home-prepared foods and fewer processed foods, so they know exactly what they are eating.
- Ask that salt not be added to foods at restaurants.
- Gradually reduce sodium intake over time to get used to the taste.
Salt intake doesn't only come from the shaker on the table, but also in foods with hidden salt like bread, chicken, and pasta.