The main dietary source of sodium is common table salt (sodium chloride), which consists of 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
Unprocessed foods, like meat, fish, poultry and eggs, contain natural sodium as well but only in very small amounts. By contrast, many processed and packaged foods are high in sodium, which is added to enhance taste and to extend shelf-life.
High Amounts of Sodium are Common in
Many Processed and Packaged Foods
How much sodium is acceptable?
The dietary guidelines for healthy adults are 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less per day. One level teaspoon of table salt equals 2,300 mg sodium. People with high blood pressure should aim for less than 1,500 mg sodium per day.
The body needs very minute amounts of sodium. 250 mg of sodium each day is sufficient and can easily be supplied by natural, unprocessed foods. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans consume on average almost 3,500 milligrams of salt every day.
What is the risk of eating too much sodium?
High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.
What foods are high in sodium?
Most processed, canned and packaged foods are high in sodium. So are salt-based seasonings. Here are some examples:
How can I reduce sodium intake?
There are many ways to cut back on sodium. For starters, don’t add more salt during cooking. Ban your salt shaker from the dinner table. Minimize consumption of processed, canned and packaged foods. If you buy processed foods, read the nutrition facts label for sodium content and go with the brand that has the least amount (e.g. 140 mg or less per serving). Good indicators are: “Unsalted,” or “no salt added,” or “low sodium.” When you eat out, ask if your meal can be prepared without added salt. Fast food, of course, is notorious for its high sodium content.
How can I season my food without using salt?
There are countless ways of seasoning that do not include salt. You can experiment with herbs and spices, garlic, onion, pepper, lemon- and lime juice, ginger, horseradish, olive oil, vinegar and so on. Professionals and hobby chefs alike love to make their own seasoning mixes and take great pride in the amazing results they achieve with their concoctions.
Can I use salt substitutes?
Salt substitutes are typically made from potassium chloride. Some medical conditions require the restriction of potassium. So check with your physician before making your purchases.