Researchers Say Salt Is World's Biggest Killer

It's killing everyone, everywhere

If you thought world hunger was a big issue, here's another one for your plate: Researchers at World Nutrition Rio2012 announced that the biggest killer in the world is salt.

Considering that the CDC says heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, it's possible. "Salt [added to food] is the major cause of high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the major cause of death worldwide," Graham MacGregor, a cardiovascular medicine professor, told Live Science.

According to data from the British Medical Journal in 2009, reducing salt intake by 2,000 milligrams could prevent about 4 million deaths from stroke or cardiovascular diseases a year. Current guidelines say Americans should limit salt intake to 2,300 milligrams per day, with recommendations for elderly and other groups to limit intake to 1,500 milligrams a day.

Although potato chips and snacks might be the largest culprit for hiding salt, recent studies show that bread is the number one salt source. But since most of the salt is hidden in retail-prepared foods (restaurants and fast food, since it's an immediate flavor boost), the real trick to getting rid of salt is cooking for yourself.

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