Though wealthy elites and fad-chasing food activists have promoted the idea that salt is a killer, the science doesn't show that. Instead, links are correlational. Asia has always been held up as a standard for health but as their incidence of hypertension has risen, as many have blamed salt as they have a diet beyond what peasants could afford in the past.

In JAMA, Yongning Wu, Ph.D., of the China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment in Beijing and colleagues compared salt and sodium consumption in China in 2000 with 2009-2012 in 12 of China's 31 mainland provinces and found that all provinces exceeded the recommended daily maximum intake of salt (5 g/d) and sodium (2 g/d), though that intake maximum has not been revised despite studies showing it is far too low to be helping anyone.

Total diet studies include weighed food intake and laboratory analysis of prepared foods representing dietary intake. In 2000, 1,080 households participated (n = 3,725); from 2009 through 2012, 1,800 households participated (n = 6,072).

The researchers say, "Although salt added during food preparation has decreased over time, total sodium intake has not. These findings update studies using different methodologies in the 1990s and 2002 and confirm that simply weighing dietary salt intake underestimates sodium consumption in China."

"China's diet is changing and refrigeration is replacing salt for food preservation. High sodium intake persists due to addition of salt and other seasonings during food preparation, and increasing consumption of processed food. Further efforts are needed to limit salt/sodium intake, and regular monitoring is needed to assess progress."