It is easy to eat a lot of salt without paying attention to how it can affect overall health. While the body needs some sodium to function, Americans typically consume too much of it. Too much sodium may increase the risk of high blood pressure, which may lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke or kidney disease.
Around 90 percent of Americans eat more than the recommended amount of sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams. Daily sodium intake should be reduced to less than 1,500 milligrams for individuals age 51 or older, African Americans or individuals who have hypertension, chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
Here are a few ways to watch your salt intake:
- Read the label on the food products you buy. The Nutrition Facts will tell you how much sodium there is per serving. Look for items that are low in sodium or have no salt added.
- Prepare food at home more often. This way you can control how much salt goes into the dishes that you make.
- Eat more fresh foods like fruits and vegetables. Processed foods typically contain a lot of salt.
- Ask for lower sodium dishes when eating out. Or ask to have your food prepared without salt.
- Eat fewer servings of items with salt. Bread does not have a lot of salt per serving, but if you eat it multiple times a day it adds up.
- Eat raw celery and carrots instead of olives and pickles.
Your favorite cooking show chef may say that salt brings out the flavor in a dish, but cutting salt does not mean sacrificing flavor. Try these tips for seasoning your meals:
- Add herbs, instead of salt, to your dish. When cooking with meats and vegetables try garlic, black or red pepper, rosemary, ginger, curry or basil.
- Try lemon juice, low-sodium soy sauce and low-sodium ketchup, which pack less salt than other condiments.
Get creative with your meals and try new ways to kick up the flavor without adding salt. Your taste buds will adjust and you can feel good about eating a healthier diet.
Jane Schwartz Harrison contributed to this report.
Created on 03/05/2010
Updated on 09/23/2013
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Where’s the sodium.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at NIH. Your guide to lowering high blood pressure.