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核心提示:It's 2009 -- several decades after health officials began urging Americans to cut down on salt. Do you know how much you're consuming? If you're a typical American, it's about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. That's well beyond the 2,300 mg recom

    It's 2009 -- several decades after health officials began urging Americans to cut down on salt.

    Do you know how much you're consuming?

    If you're a typical American, it's about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. That's well beyond the 2,300 mg recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. And it's 15 times as much as the human body requires.

    Average sodium intake has increased about 50% since the 1970s, largely because we're eating more convenience foods. And as makers of processed food have cut down on fat and sugar, they've often added more salt.

    But all this sodium can be bad for your health.

    Excess salt has been linked to osteoporosis, kidney damage and stomach cancer. Worse, it raises blood pressure, a key factor in heart attacks and strokes, which kill about 850,000 Americans a year.

    'After smoking, high blood pressure is the leading cause of preventable illness and death,' says New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden, who is urging makers of packaged foods and restaurants nationwide to gradually reduce their sodium content by 50% over the next 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that such a reduction could save 150,000 lives and $10 billion in health-care expenditures a year.

    Some 50 million Americans have hypertension (that is, blood pressure readings consistently at or above 140/90 mm/Hg). Another 20 million are prehypertensive (with blood pressure from 120/80 to 139/ 89 mm/Hg). Hypertension is more common among African-Americans than whites, and nearly 90% of Americans eventually develop it as they age.

    With that in mind, the CDC is urging anyone who has hypertension, is African-American or over age 40 -- nearly 70% of the U.S. population -- to follow a stricter guideline of just 1,500 mgs a day.

    About 80% of Americans' salt intake comes from processed foods and restaurant meals; only 20% comes from salt used in home cooking and added at the table. But cutting salt from processed food isn't easy. Besides enhancing taste, salt helps provide texture to many foods and acts as a preservative. And Americans have become accustomed to the taste.

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food makers, says many of its members have cut sodium in their products and introduced lower-salt items in recent years. But it believes that any government effort needs to include consumer education and scientific research as well.

    A few critics don't think a broad reduction in sodium is warranted. Michael Alderman, a professor of medicine and public health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., says it hasn't been conclusively shown that cutting salt intake across the population would save lives, and it could have unintended consequences. Lowering salt can cause kidney problems and contribute to insulin resistance in some cases, says Dr. Alderman, who is an unpaid consultant to the Salt Institute, an industry group.

    Darwin Labarthe, director of the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, counters that there's a very broad consensus that reducing salt would cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and there is little evidence of harmful effects. The American Heart Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization all urge lower salt consumption.

    What can you do about your own salt intake? It's impossible to know for sure how much you're consuming. Even raw chicken in the grocery store is sometimes 'enhanced' with salt water to make it plumper (and heavier, and thus more costly). But you can get some idea by checking the Nutrition Facts labels on products you buy and keeping a running tally.

    Some bakery goods and breakfast cereals have far more sodium than you'd expect. There's often a wide range of sodium among brands of the same product. Be sure to check the serving size indicated on the label. A bag of chips that looks individual may be listed as multiple servings.

    When you cook at home, experts counsel to use only half the salt the recipe calls for; experiment with herbs and spices, or go with the natural flavor. Kids who grow up with less salt may never develop a 'salt tooth.'

    It may take a while to get accustomed to less salt, but once your tastes adjust, you may not want to go back. Commissioner Frieden likens reducing salt to switching from whole milk to skim milk. 'If you go back, whole milk tastes like heavy cream,' he says.



    普通美國人每天的食鹽消耗量約為3,400毫克,遠遠高于美國膳食指南(U.S. Dietary Guidelines)建議的2,300毫克,同時也是人體所需水平的15倍。




    紐約市衛生專員托馬斯?弗里登(Thomas Frieden)表示,高血壓是僅次于吸煙之后的可預防疾病和死亡的主要原因。弗里登敦促全美包裝食品制造商和餐廳在未來10年內逐漸將食鹽用量減少 50%.美國疾病控制和預防中心(The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,簡稱CDC)估計,采取這項措施,不僅每年可以挽救15萬人的生命,而且可以減少100億美元的醫療支出。

    大約5000萬美國人都患有高血壓(即血壓水平長時間至少為140/90 mm/Hg).另有2000萬人接近高血壓(即血壓水平為120/80至139/ 89).相比白種人,高血壓在非裔美國人當中更加普遍,而隨著年齡的增大,將近90%的美國人最終都會患上高血壓。



    食品制造商協會(Grocery Manufacturers Association)表示,近年來,該協會的許多會員已經開始逐漸減少食品含鹽量,并陸續推出低鹽食品。但是,它同時表示,任何政府措施都需要增強對消費者的教育以及以科學研究為佐證。

    少數批評人士認為,目前并沒有足夠證據顯示大幅降低食鹽用量是必要之舉。位于紐約州布朗克斯的阿爾波特愛因斯坦醫學院(Albert Einstein College of Medicine)的藥品和公共衛生教授麥克爾?阿爾德曼(Michael Alderman)表示,并沒有充分的科學研究顯示普遍降低食鹽攝取量可以拯救生命,這樣做可能反而會帶來意想不到的后果。阿爾德曼博士表示,在某些情況 下,降低食鹽攝取量可能引發腎臟問題,或者促進胰島素抗體的生成。阿爾德曼博士目前還擔任行業團體鹽學會(Salt Institute)的志愿顧問。

    CDC心臟病和中風預防中心主任達爾文?拉巴特(Darwin Labarthe)對此持不同意見。他表示,學術界普遍認為降低食鹽攝取量有助于減少心臟病和中風的風險,少有證據顯示它會引起任何不良的副作用。美國心 臟協會(American Heart Association)、美國醫學會(American Medical Association)以及世界衛生組織(World Health Organization)都在提倡降低食鹽攝取量。





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