The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on Thursday recommending that adults consume less salt and include a minimum of potassium in their daily diets so as to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.
“Adults should consume less than 2,000 mg (2 grams) of sodium, or (less than) 5 grams of salt, and at least 3,510 mg (3.51 grams) of potassium per day,” the U.N. agency said in a statement.
Previously the WHO had recommended 2 grams of sodium but the new guidelines added the words “less than”, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told Reuters.
The WHO also issued its first recommendations for children’s intake of sodium and salt, depending on their size, age and energy needs, he said. They apply to children over the age of two.
Sodium, found naturally in foods such as milk products and eggs, is present “in much higher amounts in processed foods” such as bread, processed meats such as bacon, snack foods, bouillon or stock cubes, and condiments such as soy sauce, the WHO said.
A person with either elevated sodium levels or low potassium could be at risk of raised blood pressure, a factor that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, it said.
“Elevated blood pressure is a major risk for heart disease and stroke – the number one cause of death and disability globally,” said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s department of nutrition for health and development.