Salt in the Diet

How Much Salt is Too Much?

Evidence continues to mount that Americans need to reduce the amount of salt in their diets. Too much dietary salt can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

In an article published in the British Journal of Medicine researchers showed that if people could cut back their salt intake by 25 to 35 percent, they could reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 25 percent.

Taking the salt shaker off the table is not enough. 80 percent of salt in the diet comes from eating out, packaged and processed food. For example, one cup of canned soup can contain more than 50 percent of the recommended allowance of 1500 to 2400 mg of salt (sodium) per day. Once slice of lunch meat can have 350 mg of salt.

Keep in mind that a certain amount of salt in the diet is needed to support healthy functioning. However, be aware that aging, pain medications, antidepressants, diuretics, heart or kidney failure, and some other diseases can cause the body to improperly store the salt that is taken in. Tips for reducing salt in your diet include:

  • Choose fresh, frozen or canned foods with no salt added.
  • Buy unsalted nuts, seeds and dried beans.
  • Limit salty snacks.
  • Avoid foods that list salt as one of the top four ingredients.
  • When cooking at home, try to replace salt with other herbs or spices.