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Do You Have to Cut Back on Salt If You're Healthy?

Here's what the latest evidence has to say

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and public health at New York University, provides still another twist in the salt story mystery. She says a portion of the population is sensitive to salt, so cutting their salt lowers their blood pressure. But another, possibly larger, percentage of people can eat salty food and their blood pressure isn't affected. In other words, a one-size salt shaker doesn't fit all.

Still, Elena Kuklina, M.D., with the CDC's division of heart disease and stroke prevention, insists that "nearly everyone benefits from reduced sodium consumption."

Kuklina, who's also an author of the CDC's recent potassium-sodium study, says Americans over age 50, "even those with normal blood pressure," should consume no more than the government-recommended 1,500 mg of salt a day.

"Eating less sodium along with more potassium can help prevent or control high blood pressure," she says.

To make sure older Americans get enough potassium in their diet, she urges them to eat fresh, high-potassium foods such as spinach, grapes, carrots and potatoes.

Or think about this: Cook more from scratch and eat out less. That's an easy way to cut back on salt without sacrificing flavor.

Candy Sagon writes about health and food for the AARP Bulletin and online in her blog, HealthyCandy.

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