Don't Let Salt Sneak Up On You

Sodium and its close relative salt (which is about 40 percent sodium) are dangerous to your health and are hiding in plain sight.

Sodium and its close relative salt (which is about 40 percent sodium) are dangerous to your health and are hiding in plain sight. According to the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics 2015 Update, excessive sodium consumption kills about 1.65 million people every year worldwide. This is because too much dietary sodium can increase blood pressure…and it’s easy to get too much.

Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life. It’s regulated in the body by your kidneys, and it helps control your body’s fluid balance. But too much sodium in your system causes your body to retain (hold onto) water. This puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels.

The problem is nine out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults should consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for ideal heart health, but most people consume about 3,400 milligrams a day.

Most of our sodium does not come from the salt shaker. Approximately 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from what is added to restaurant and processed foods. This makes it hard for people to choose wisely and limit how much sodium they eat, because it is already added to their food before they buy it.

Watch out for the "Salty 6" — the top six common foods that add the most salt to your diet. Read food labels and chose the lowest level of sodium you can find for these items:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Pizza
  • Soup
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Poultry
  • Sandwiches

Read the Nutrition Facts label before buying processed food. The amount of sodium per serving is listed in milligrams. The sodium content of packaged and prepared foods can vary widely. Compare the sodium content of similar products and choose the one with the lowest amount.


Visit the American Heart Association website for more information and resources on sodium.

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