On Jan. 31, the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released the newest version of the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans, billed as "the federal government's evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity."
The 100-plus-page report is full of sensible advice, including recommendations to avoid oversized portions, switch to low-fat milk, and drink water instead of sugary beverages. But one particular piece of advice has been making headlines: the government's strong warning that Americans need to reduce their salt consumption. In a separate report published last April, the Institute of Medicine noted that cutting the amount of salt in our diets could prevent more than 100,000 deaths each year.
The salt debate is certainly heated. But the government doesn't hedge any bets in making a "key recommendation" that Americans reduce their daily intake of sodium to 2,300 milligrams—about a teaspoon, or roughly the amount in 10 dill pickles. This alone poses a remarkable challenge; less...