About 90% 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 health care dollars 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 possible 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). Some salts don't contain sodium.
|Top Sources of Sodium|
in the Diet
|Breads and rolls|
|Cold cuts and cured meats|
*The pasta dishes category does not include macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is its own category.
Eating less sodium is a challenge
This chart shows a range of sodium amounts in different types of food. Serving sizes may vary for some foods, e.g., bread slices which may be lower in sodium because of thinner slices.
Check the Nutrition Facts label which lists sodium content per serving. For help reading labels, visit Sodium Tip Sheet [PDF - 1.77KB].
Above is a sample diet of 3 meals and 3 small snacks with a total sodium content of more than 3,200 mg.