The American Heart Association recommends a restriction of dietary sodium to 3,000 milligrams (3 grams) per day and of dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day.
Generally, 1.5 teaspoons of salt (the composition of which is either sodium chloride or sodium iodide) a day is sufficient to obtain the recommended 3,000 milligrams of sodium. However, the average American ingests two to four times that much. Too much salt in the diet causes extra water to be drawn into the blood vessels. This increases the pressure on the artery walls, causing high blood pressure.
Cholesterol, an essential element for bodily functions, is contained in foods having a high saturated-fat content, such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream, fatty meats, poultry, shellfish, coconut oil, cocoa butter (found in chocolate), palm oil, and palm kernel oil.
Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature or that become hard when exposed to cold.
The overconsumption of fatty foods may raise one's blood cholesterol to unhealthy levels. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and atherosclerosis (a condition characterized by fatty deposits in artery walls). For those reasons, researchers advise limiting one's intake of fatty, high-cholesterol foods.
Sources: Eating to Lower Your High Blood Cholesterol, (pamphlet), pp. 4-8; Hopkins, Nigel J., John W. Mayne, and John R. Hudson. The Numbers You Need, p. 84; Wyngaarden, James B., and Lloyd H. Smith. Cecil Textbook of Medicine, p. 1208.
Sources: Dull, Charles E. Modern Physics, p. 243; Ontario Science Center Staff. Foodworks: Over One Hundred Science Activities and Fascinating Facts That Explore the Magic of Food, p. 72.