Do we need salt? Yes. Some salt is necessary for good health. But, we don’t need as much as we eat. How much sodium is too much? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 1500 mg of sodium each day for people:
- Who are over the age of 50
- Who are African American of any age
- With high blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
- With diabetes, heart disease, or chronic kidney disease
- (People not listed above should eat less than 2300 mg of sodium per day.)
How much sodium do people eat now? Most people eat 3400 mg of sodium each day or about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Salt is added to restaurant, fast food meals and processed foods (like hot dogs, bacon, lunch meat, soups, canned foods, cereals, breads, and condiments) to increase flavor. It is easy to eat too much salt and not know it. 80% of the salt we eat comes from restaurant meals and processed foods. Most people only get 10% of their sodium from salt added during cooking or at the table.
Simple ways to eat less sodium:
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
- Cook more fresh foods at home
- Eat less salty snacks
- Read food labels to find the amount of sodium
- Choose foods labeled “unsalted” or “low sodium”
Did You Know?
Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. High blood pressure is also called hypertension. High blood pressure can cause a stroke or heart attack. You can’t feel high blood pressure. Ask your doctor to help you set a goal for your blood pressure.