12/19/2013 03:57 pm ET

Sodium Consumption In U.S. Is Still Too High

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Americans on a whole are still eating too much salt, according to a new government report.

Eight in 10 preschoolers and nine in 10 children and adults consume too much dietary sodium, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with much of this sodium coming from processed foods or from restaurant foods (and not from salt added during cooking, or to a meal from a salt shaker).

The new report also shows that the average amount of sodium consumed each day by people ages 1 and older went down a little bit between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010 -- average sodium consumption was 3,518 milligrams per day in 2003-2004, while it was 3,424 milligrams in 2009-2010. Depending on the age group, anywhere from 79 to 95 percent of people consumed sodium at a level above the "upper intake" decided by the Institute of Medicine.

The new report is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2010, which incldued 34,916 people ages 1 and older.

Currently, the dietary guidelines for Americans say that people should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (where 2,300 milligrams is considered the "upper limit," and not the recommended level). However, some groups -- including people with diabetes, hypertension or chronic kidney disease, or adults ages 51 and older and African Americans -- are recommended to consume 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day or less. Adequate intake of sodium is considered 1,500 milligrams a day. The CDC also notes that people should consume potassium-rich foods in tandem with sodium.

That's because too much sodium raises blood pressure, which can then lead to increased heart attack risk or stroke.

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