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AMA wants to slash sodium levels

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Please don't pass the salt. The American Medical Association has passed a resolution that urges the food industry to cut salt in half. From the Health Desk at WGBH, Helen Palmer reports.

HELEN PALMER: We need about a teaspoon of salt a day for nerve and muscle function, but most of us eat 3 or 4 teaspoons — enough to push up blood pressure. Michael Jacobsen of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

MICHAEL JACOBSEN: The American Medical Association's resolution hopefully will spur the Food and Drug Administration to start regulating salt, lowering sodium levels in the food supply, preventing heart attacks and strokes.

But Richard Hanneman of the salt institute says 13 studies, including one published in March, fail to show that cutting salt improved health.

RICHARD HANNEMAN: That study showed that people who go on 2300mg of sodium or less — which is the government recommendation — had a 37% greater mortality.

Hanneman says salt makes things taste better and helps preserve them, one reason it's used so widely in processed foods.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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