Added salt in our diets is unnecessary and contributes to health problems such as hypertension and strokes, write Dr. Ken Flegel and Dr. Peter Magner and the CMAJ editorial team Consumers must be vigilant, read food labels, avoid food with high salt content and demand low salt food in stores and restaurants.

“Of the estimated one billion people living with hypertension, about 30% can attribute it to excess salt intake,” write the authors. They note that populations, such as the Yanomami Indians in South America, with very low levels of salt intake do not have hypertension. In contrast, Japan, with a salt intake of 15 g per person, has high rates of hypertension and the highest stroke rates in the industrialized world.

They recommend a maximum daily intake of 2.8 g for active young people and 2.2 for older adults.

“The correct default should be no added salt in food we purchase, leaving those who still wish to do so free to indulge at their own risk,” the authors conclude.