Americans consume too much salt: CDC report

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(CBS) Americans eat too much salt, and it's killing us.

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A new government report says that just about everyone who could benefit from a salt-restricted diet is getting too much of the stuff - and that it's raising their risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Federal dietary guidelines issued in 2010 call for most people age two or older to consume no more than 2,300 mg of salt (sodium chloride) per day. But the guidelines set the daily salt limit at 1,500 mg for blacks, people age 51 or older, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. And of these folks - who make up almost 48 percent of the population over the age of two - the report says that a whopping 99 percent are eating more salt than the guidelines say to eat.

The report, based on data from 2005 to 2008, was published in the Oct. 21 issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Want to cut back on salt? You're going to have to do more than keep your hands off the salt shaker. Three-fourths of the sodium we consume comes from packaged foods and restaurant foods. That means only one-fourth of the sodium we consume is added in consumers' kitchens or at their tables.

The report said salt intake had fallen about 10 percent in the U.K. in recent years, as the result of efforts by the government and private industry to limit sodium in processed foods. If similar reductions could be implemented in the U.S., $4 billion a year in health-care costs might be saved.

Not to mention lots of lives.