SODIUM FACTS

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bout 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.* 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 in 2010. 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 grocery store shopping, and you can cook more foods yourself to better control how much sodium you eat.

* The words salt and sodium are sometimes used interchangeably because most of the sodium we eat is in the form of salt (sodium chloride).

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Sodium Facts

  • 90% of Americans aged 2 years or older eat too much sodium
  • 44% of the sodium we eat comes from only 10 types of food
  • Reducing the sodium Americans eat by 1,200 mg per day on average could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs
  • More than 800,000 people die each year from heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases, costing the nation $273 billion health care dollars in 2010
  • About 65% of sodium eaten comes from food bought at retail stores. About 25% from restaurants
  • The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day
  • About 6 out of 10 adults should further limit their sodium to 1,500 mg (people 51 years or older, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should limit their sodium to 1,500 mg)
  • Americans eat on average about 3,300 mg of sodium a day, excluding salt added at the table
  • Sodium is already part of processed foods and cannot be removed

 

 

 

Understanding Sodium In Foods Can Be Confusing

Types of Foods Matter
More than 40 percent 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, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, sandwiches such as cheeseburgers, cheese, pasta dishes*, meat-mixed dishes such as meat loaf with tomato sauce, and snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn.

*The pasta dishes category does not include macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is its own category.

Sources of Foods Matter
About 65 percent of sodium eaten comes from food bought at retail stores, so look for lower sodium choices. About 25 percent 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 less than 2,300 mg a day. People 51 years or older, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should limit their sodium to 1,500 mg.
  • Foods that otherwise seem healthy may have high levels of sodium (e.g., cottage cheese and turkey breast luncheon meat). Sodium is already part of processed foods and cannot be removed.
  • Sodium is included in surprising ways. For example, much of the raw chicken and pork bought from a store has been injected with a sodium solution.
  • Ready to eat foods are typically higher in sodium.
  • Some foods that you eat several times a day, such as bread, add up to a lot of sodium even though each serving is not high in sodium.

 

 

 

High Blood Pressure And Sodium

  • Research strongly shows a dose-dependent relationship between consuming too much salt and raised levels of blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of the top three leading causes of death in the U.S.
  • High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it.
  • High blood pressure affects nearly 1 in 3 U.S. adults and was listed as a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 347,000 Americans in 2008.
  • About half of the people with high blood pressure has it under control.
  • When salt intake is reduced, blood pressure begins decreasing within weeks on average
  • Populations who consume diets low in salt do not experience the increase in blood pressure with age that is seen in most Western countries

     

     

     

    These tips were adapted from CDC’s Vital Signs – Where’s the Sodium and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Health Bulletin – Cut the Salt!