Cutting salt shouldn’t be hard for teens, not for those hooked on fast food, anyway

Less salt in teen diets each day would lower the risk for heart disease and stroke as they age, say researchers at an American Heart Assn. conference.

Teens eat more salt than any other age group, the study says, more than 9 grams, or 3,800 milligrams, each day. The Heart Assn. recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams per day of salt for most Americans. Trimming just 3 grams a day would mean 44% to 63% fewer hypertensive teens and young adults, and 30% to 43% fewer hypertensive adults 35 to 50.

Teens shouldn’t find it hard to cut sodium – if cutting fast food weren’t an obvious way. Say they pick up a Fresco Burrito Supreme–Chicken from Taco Bell on the way home from school. They’ve packed in 1,290 milligrams of sodium right there. Cutting out a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Carl’s Jr. would save them 1,260 milligrams of sodium. Then there’s snacking. A vending-machine size bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos packs in 310 milligrams – and who settles for the small bag when the big bags are so available.

Maybe a salt substitute would help. The Los Angeles Times reports on the latest research in finding one. Until then, teens need to step away from the vending machines.