Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Heart-health questions stump many

Do you know your blood pressure? Do Americans get most of their sodium from table salt? Is sea salt a low-sodium alternative to table salt? If you answered yes, no, and no, give yourself a gold star. Your fellow Americans, though, didn't do quite as well on these questions, all part of an American Heart Association poll.

Among the 1,000 people who completed the poll in March 2011:

  • 41% didn't know their blood pressure

  • 46% believed that Americans get most of their sodium from table salt (only about 10% of the sodium in the average American's diet is added during cooking or at the table; most comes from packaged and processed foods)

  • 61% thought that sea salt has less sodium than table salt (sodium-wise, they are identical).

Another disconnect: although 76% of the respondents said that drinking wine is good for the heart, and 73% said they drank wine, only 30% knew the recommended daily limits for wine drinking — no more than two glasses (8 ounces) a day for men and one glass (4 ounces) for women.

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