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Fallacies abound regarding sodium and wine consumption

An American Heart Assn. survey shows that more than half of Americans believe drinking wine is good for the heart, but few know how much to consume to receive the health benefits. The survey also found that most adults incorrectly think that sea salt is lower in sodium than table salt. AHA spokesman Gerald Fletcher, MD, said misconceptions like these could negatively affect adults' cardiovascular health. He said his organization recommends that physicians educate patients on ways to lower their sodium consumption. He also encourages doctors to talk to patients about the negative health effects of drinking too much wine, such as an increase in blood pressure. "Hypertension is a devastating [disease]. ...And it's very strongly influenced by your intake of salt," said Dr. Fletcher, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. In March, the AHA surveyed 1,000 adults 18 and older on their beliefs about how salt and wine affect heart health. Sixty-one percent consider sea salt a low-sodium alternative to table salt. Most sea salt, however, contains the same amount of sodium as table salt, according to the AHA. Nearly one in four people incorrectly believe that someone could identify a person with hypertension by the way he or she looks or feels. And 46% of adults said table salt is the primary source of sodium in the American diet. The truth is that a majority (up to 75%) of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed foods, such as tomato sauce, condiments, canned foods and prepared mixes, the AHA said. The American Heart Assn. recommends that adults and children consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. When asked about alcohol, 76% of adults 21 and older said wine is good for their heart in moderation. But fewer than one in three people knows the AHA's recommended daily limits for wine consumption. The association suggests that men drink no more than 8 ounces of wine a day, and that women consume no more than four ounces. "This survey shows that we need to do a better job of educating people about the heart-health risks of overconsumption of wine," Dr. Fletcher said. Some studies have indicated that antioxidants in red wine, called polyphenols, might help prevent damage to blood vessels in the heart, reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and prevent blood clots, according to Mayo Clinic. But drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for hypertension. About one in three U.S. adults has hypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. The full and original article can be found at:
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