CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Decreasing Your Salt Intake

Here's Why:

Sodium intake may be an important factor in the development of high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The risk of getting high blood pressure increases with age.

There is a good percentage of the general public who can be described as salt sensitive. This means that their blood pressures are likely to increase when they eat a high-sodium diet, and conversely, their blood pressures may be lowered by limiting dietary sodium.

Salt sensitivity is difficult to accurately diagnose. Therefore, appropriate sodium recommendations are a subject of debate among nutrition experts. Many believe that all people should limit their sodium intakes to either treat or prevent hypertension, regardless of their present blood pressure level. The latest US dietary guidelines (2015) suggest that ideally no more than 2,300 mg/day of sodium be consumed. People with high blood pressure, people older than 50 years, African Americans, people with diabetes, and people with kidney disease should limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day.

A major study in this area is DASH—Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This study found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat—now called the DASH diet—helped lower blood pressure.

The second phase of the study found further reductions in blood pressure when the DASH diet was combined with a sodium intake of no more than 2,400 mg/day. The combination of DASH diet and a sodium intake of no more than 1,600 mg/day was as effective in controlling blood pressure as medication regimen involving a single antihypertensive drug. For some people with mild hypertension, diet alone may be an effective means of blood pressure control when the diet includes adequate calcium and potassium along with sodium restriction.

Here's How:    TOP

Sodium is found in many foods. Some are obvious, but others may surprise you.

Major Food Sources

Sodium chloride, better known as table salt, is the major source of dietary sodium. Only a small amount of sodium comes from salt added during cooking or at the table. Fast foods and commercially processed foods—canned, frozen, and instant—add a significant amount of sodium to the typical American diet. These include:

  • Beef broth
  • Ketchup
  • Commercial soups
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Potato chips
  • Salted snack foods
  • Sandwich meats
  • Sauces
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tomato-based products

Sodium occurs naturally in:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meats
  • Milk products
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Soft water

Reading Food Labels

All food products contain a Nutrition Facts label, which states a food's sodium content. The following terms are also used on food packaging:

Food label termMeaning
Sodium freeLess than 5 mg/serving
Very low sodium35 mg or less/serving
Low sodium140 mg or less/serving
Reduced sodium25% reduction in sodium content from original product
Unsalted, no salt added, without added saltProcessed without salt when salt normally would be used in processing

Tips for Lowering Your Sodium Intake    TOP

Here are some tips to help you lower your sodium intake:

  • Read the nutrition label to find out how much sodium is in the foods you are purchasing.
  • Gradually cut down on the amount of salt you use. Your taste buds will adjust to less salt.
  • Taste your food before you salt it; it may not need more salt.
  • Substitute flavorful ingredients for salt in cooking, such as garlic, oregano, lemon or lime juice, or other herbs, spices, and seasonings.
  • Opt for fresh foods instead of processed foods. For example, select fresh or plain frozen vegetables and meats instead of those canned with salt.
  • Look for low sodium, reduced sodium, or no salt versions of your favorite foods
  • Cook and eat at home. Adjust your recipes to gradually cut down on the amount of salt you use. If some of the ingredients already contain salt, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, or cheese, you do not need to add more salt.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt or with less salt than the package calls for (try 1/8 teaspoon for two servings). Flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes generally already contain added salt.
  • When dining out, order a low-salt meal or ask the chef not to add salt to your meal.
  • Limit your use of condiments, such as soy sauce, dill pickles, salad dressings, and packaged sauces.

Making dietary changes takes time. Start slowly and find what works best for you. When you find the right combination, you will be able to decrease the amount of salt you consume.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

References:

About sodium (salt). American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 26, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.
DASH diet. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T170319/DASH-diet. Updated April 29, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. Available at: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Updated December 2015. Accessed March 3, 2017.
Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115345/Hypertension. Updated February 7, 2017. Accessed March 3, 2017.
Salt. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm. Updated December 28, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.
Sodium and salt. American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 3, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 3/3/2017

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000