About Sodium (Salt)

Why is everyone so concerned about sodium these days?

Sodium is an essential dietary component, but if you are probably getting way more sodium than your body needs or that is good for your heart

Sodium on a nutrition label


In some people, sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden to your heart. Blood pressure rises with age, and eating less sodium now will help curb that rise and reduce your risk of developing other conditions associated with too much sodium, such as stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease.

Most people consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day — more than twice the 1,500 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association

Salty misconception

Approximately 75% of the sodium we eat come from sodium added to processed and restaurant foods. This makes it hard for us to choose foods with less sodium and to limit how much sodium we are eating because it is already added to our food before we buy it


Common table salt is sodium chloride, which is approximately 40% sodium by weight. About 90% of our sodium intake comes from sodium chloride. Understanding just how much sodium is in table salt can help us take measures to control how much we are consuming

Here are the approximate amounts of sodium, in milligrams (mg), in a given amount of table salt:
• 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
• 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
• 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
• 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

Sodium content on nutrition labels

You can also read the ingredient list to identify sources of sodium in your food. Watch for the words:
“soda” (referring to sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda) and
“sodium” (including sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate [MSG] and sodium benzoate)

Once you start to recognize these terms, you will see that there is sodium in many foods – even those that do not taste very salty

Everyone age 2 and up should consume less than 2,300 mg sodium per day

Some groups of people should further limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day, including:
• Adults age 51 or older
• All people of African descent
• Anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease