Too much sodium in your diet can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. But do you know how much salt is too much salt? Or where most of the sodium in your diet comes from?
Test your knowledge of salt intake by considering these questions:
You shouldn't consume more than one teaspoon of salt a day.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend adults limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day*. That's equal to about one teaspoon of salt. If you have high blood pressure or other health conditions, maximum daily sodium limits are even lower – about 1,500 milligrams a day. Reducing your sodium intake can help reduce blood pressure as well as your risk of cardiovascular disease. *Note: Special populations, such as athletes who sweat excessively, may need to consume additional sodium to replace sodium lost through sweat.
You don't need any sodium in your diet.
Sodium is essential to the proper functioning of your body. You just don't need much of it. Many Americans consume far more than the recommended amounts of sodium. In fact, the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily.
Skip the salt shaker – it's one of the top sources of sodium in the U.S. diet.
Although many Americans have acquired a taste for a high salt diet, most of the sodium we consume does not come from table salt. In fact, about 77% comes from processed and restaurant foods.
You'll know if your food contains a lot of sodium because it will taste salty.
Many foods that don't taste salty contain lots of sodium. Some of the worst culprits are bread, pizza, soup, meats and cold cuts. Read labels to find the amount of sodium in packaged foods and opt for low-sodium or salt-free versions of foods whenever possible.
The best way to cut back on salt is to go "cold turkey" and eliminate it all at once.
The taste for salt is acquired, so you are more likely to be successful if you cut back gradually to reduce your taste for it. Try substituting flavorful spices and herbs when preparing food and you'll learn to enjoy the taste of food without the need for salt.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 26, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor