For the first time, the U.S. government is advising that more than half of the American population needs to drastically cut their daily salt intake.

According to new dietary guidelines, those who are most at risk for high blood pressure; including those over the age of 51; African-Americans; those suffering from hypertension; diabetes or chronic kidney disease, which together make up half the U.S. population are being urged to consume only about a half a teaspoon of salt a day.

The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments issue the guidelines every five years, and recommends that everyone else stick to the “teaspoon a day” guideline of 2,300 milligrams, which is about one-third less than the average person usually consumes.

The assault on salt is aimed strongly at the food industry, which is responsible for the majority of sodium most people consume. Most salt intake doesn’t come from the shaker on the table; it’s hidden in foods such as breads, chicken and pasta.

It has long been known that too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and other problems. But cutting the salt won’t be easy.

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