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Decrease Salt Intake For Your Health

Updated on March 30, 2012

Dietary Guidelines

In general, the USDA recommends people consume less than 2300 mg of sodium per day. This is less than 1 teaspoon of salt daily. The recommendation is even less for people who have diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, African-Americans, middle-age to older adults, and people with chronic kidney disease should consume less salt as research shows that these groups may have a greater response to sodium and also demonstrate greater blood pressure responses. The recommendation for these groups is less than 1500 mg per day. The American Heart Association recommends a reduction to 1500 mg for all adults by the year 2020 with an interim goal of 2000 mg by the year 2013. This is a challenging goal as most Americans consume an average of 3400 mg of salt daily.

Health Effects

Sodium is essential for your body to function but can have negative consequences in high amounts. Sodium serves to maintain proper fluid balance in your body, help transmit nerve impulses, and regulates muscle activity.

Your kidneys function to maintain optimum balance of sodium in your body. Your body holds onto sodium when there is not enough or excrete it when there is too much. With excessive intake, the kidneys cannot excrete enough and the sodium begins to accumulate in your blood stream. Water is attracted to the increased sodium and your blood volume begins to increase. With more volume, your heart must work harder and blood pressure increases. With increased blood pressure, people are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

In addition, too much or too little salt can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, electrolyte imbalance, and in severe cases death. Edema and even stomach cancer has been linked to high levels of sodium.


Recommendations For Decreasing Salt Consumption

  • Read all nutrition labels when purchasing food and choose foods that are low in sodium. Select foods with less than 5% Daily Value of sodium.
  • Avoid eating many processed and canned foods.
  • Eat more fresh foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Prepare meals at home more frequently where you may control the amount of added salt.
  • Season foods with alternatives such as spices, lemon, wine, etc.
  • Prepare meat and fish without salt.
  • Gradually decrease salt intake over time.

Taste for Salt

It is important to realize that a persons salt preference is not always the same and can be changed. In reducing the amount of salt consumed, taste for salt will tend to decrease over time. Other flavorings may substitute and satisfy a persons taste. There are also salt substitues, but seek advice from a physician prior to trying them.


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    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Good hub, Matt, very interesting. I love the taste of salt, but strangely enough, I usually only use it on fresh "home grown" tomatoes and steamed potatoes, which means I use it basically "in season" although I do continue in winter with microwaved potatoes. But a whole teaspoon/day? I highly doubt it, although I will start checking labels more closely. Thanks for a good hub, and thanks for the follow.

    • thayak profile image

      thayak 6 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Great post Matt!!

    • Matt Stark profile image

      Matt Stark 6 years ago from Albany, CA

      @Esmeowl12 Yes, cutting back is hard. Try a bit at a time. Hopefully the above suggestions help. Thanks!

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      I know I have too much salt. It's just so hard to cut back! Thanks for the informative hub.