January 13, 2010

Salt Banned in NYC


The city that never sleeps is implementing a new bylaw to save lives, although not in the way that you would expect. The New York City Health Department is taking the initiative to promote healthy living – by organizing the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a plan to reduce the average use of sodium within packaged and restaurant food by twenty percent within the next five years. The average American today consumes about twice the recommended quotient of salt per day, which explains the unnatural increase in heart attacks and strokes within the last decade.

Too much salt raises the risk of many cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension (or high blood pressure), strokes and heart attacks, causing approximately 800,000 deaths in the United States alone every year. Most of the salt consumed in an average person’s diet comes not from their saltshaker, but is added to food before it reaches the local supermarket. The New York City Health Department predicts that by reducing the salt content in consumer products and restaurant food, within five years the sodium intake of all Americans will be reduced by twenty percent.

Although salt is proven to contribute to high blood pressure, which amounts to billions of dollars in healthcare expenses, food scientists are concerned that people may actually suffer from the implements of the National Salt Reduction Initiative, as people can suffer from having too little salt. For example, iodized salt, which contains iodine, is an important factor that your body needs to produce the thyroid hormone, which is crucial in fetal and infant brain development. The lack of thyroid hormone development is extremely consequential, causing cretinism in many cases of iodine deficiency. Food scientists have also noted that other consumers in Europe actually intake about forty percent more salt than the average American, but because of their balanced diet containing many vegetables, they have excellent cardiovascular health. It is possible that the medical crisis surrounding the effects of high blood pressure may have little to do with salt, and more to do with having a balanced diet and plenty of vegetables.

It is unclear whether this new initiative will significantly impact the severity of the medical issues surrounding high blood pressure; however the National Salt Reduction Initiative marks an important step towards healthy living and better regulation of the quality of processed food.

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