(HealthDay News) – Substantial health benefits can likely be achieved if Americans gradually reduce their daily dietary sodium intake over the next decade, according to research published online Feb. 11 in Hypertension.

Pamela G. Coxson, PhD, of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues created three different computer modeling approaches using epidemiologic data and studies on the direct effects of sodium reduction on cardiovascular disease mortality and the indirect effects on blood pressure. The authors sought to estimate the effect of lowering daily sodium consumption to near the upper limit of the federal guidelines of 2,300mg/day over the next decade.

Three different scenarios were utilized, including a gradual reduction of dietary sodium intake of 4%/year for 10 years or instantaneous 40% reductions to 2,200mg/day or 1,500mg/day sustained for 10 years. The researchers found that, while instantaneous reductions yielded the highest health benefits with the possibility of saving 0.7–1.2 million lives over the next decade, gradually reducing sodium intake through processed or restaurant-prepared foods would still yield substantial health benefits and save 280,000–500,000 lives.

“No matter how we look at it, the story is the same – there will be huge benefits in reducing sodium,” Coxson said in a statement.

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