In fact, some scientists say sticking to the guidelines is a risk in itself. There’s a growing movement of scientists who say government recommendations when it comes to salt aren’t based on sound scientific evidence, and could actually pose a health risk to those who strictly follow them.
Right now, the US federal government has advised that Americans consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which means you can have a teaspoon of salt over a 24-hour period, and then you’re done. For African-Americans and those over 50, the guidelines recommend an even smaller amount – 1,500 milligrams per day. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Board and the Australian Heart Foundation also recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. And if that sounds pretty stingy to you, it is, and most of us struggle to keep to that amount. As a result, governments around the world are frequently advising the public that they’re eating too much salt – Americans are averaging about 3,500 milligrams per day – and say it’s contributing to all kinds of very serious, and often fatal, heart conditions. Enter isles full of ‘low salt’ and ‘low sodium’ products designed to save us from ourselves in the blandest way possible.
Where did this “one teaspoon or less” amount come from, and what scientific evidence is it based on? Peter Whoriskey over at The Washington Post has done some investigating, and the answers to both these questions are surprisingly – and disconcertingly – vague. “There is no longer any valid basis for the current salt guidelines,” Andrew Mente from McMaster University in Canada, who was involved in major 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding salt consumption, told Whoriskey. “So why are we still scaring people about salt?” Via Salt probably isn’t as bad for you as the government says – and here’s why