About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.
Why is this a problem?
Too much sodium increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure. High blood pressure often leads to heart disease and stroke. More than 800,000 people die each year from heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases, costing the nation $273 billion in health care dollars in 2010.
Note: The words salt and sodium are sometimes used interchangeably because most of the sodium we eat is in the form of salt (sodium chloride). Some salts don’t contain sodium.
Where does all this sodium come from?
Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants. Sodium is already part of processed foods and cannot be removed.
However, manufacturers and restaurants can produce foods with less sodium. In addition, you can select lower sodium foods when possible and you can cook more foods yourself, to better control how much sodium you eat.
Types of foods matter: More than 40% of sodium comes from the following 10 types of foods:
– Breads and rolls
– Cold cuts and cured meats such as deli or packaged ham, or turkey
– Fresh and processed poultry
– Sandwiches such as cheeseburgers
– Pasta dishes
– Mixed meat dishes such as meatloaf with tomato sauce
– Snacks such as chips, pretzels, and popcorn.
• Sources of foods matter: About 65% of sodium eaten comes from food bought at retail stores, so look for lower sodium choices. About 25% comes from restaurants and it can be hard for a person to tell how much sodium is in restaurant foods.
• Brands of foods matter: Different brands of the same foods may have different sodium levels. For example, sodium in chicken noodle soup can vary by as much as 840 milligrams (mg) per serving.
Eating Less Sodium is a Challenge
• Americans eat on average about 3,300 mg of sodium a day. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to