The World Health Organization, 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Heart Association all recommend eating less than a teaspoon of salt per day, however, most Americans are eating way more than that. High sodium diets can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. If sodium intake dropped to the recommended level, an estimated 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year.
By the numbers.
Sodium is measured in milligrams on food labels, abbreviated to mg. Here's how that translates:
So where is all this salt coming from? It's not just from the salt shaker. About 75% comes from either processed or restaurant food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flagged these foods as contributing to almost half of the sodium intake:
How much are you eating?
Most people have no idea how much salt they're eating on a daily basis, but you can check the food labels to get an idea. Keep any eye out for other sodium-containing ingredients like sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) or sodium benzoate. There's also several sodium-related terms to be aware of:
Is all sodium bad?
No. Sodium is important for fluid balance as well as muscle and nerve function, however, it doesn't take a lot to get the job done. The body only needs about 500 mg — less than ¼ teaspoon — per day to take care of business. The kidneys are also able to hang onto sodium if the body needs a little extra.
Tips to help you break up with salt: