Nearly all Americans eat too much salt. Most of the salt comes from eating processed foods (75 percent), or adding salt to food while cooking and using the salt shaker at meals (5 to 10 percent). On average, the more salt a person eats, the higher his or her blood pressure. Eating less salt is an important way to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which may in turn reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney damage. To reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, eat less processed food and use less salt while cooking and at the table.
Other lifestyle changes may prevent or delay having high blood pressure and may help lower elevated blood pressure. These include eating more potassium-rich foods, losing excess weight, being more physically active, reducing stress triggers, and eating a healthy diet. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
Did you know that sodium and potassium both impact blood pressure? A diet rich in potassium helps to counterbalance some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure.
Here are some tips for eating less salt and more potassium —
- When you're
choosing packaged foods, check the sodium content on the Nutrition
Facts label. Focus on the milligrams of sodium in each serving.
Use the Daily Value percentages to help limit your sodium intake.
Five percent DV or less is low and 20 percent DV or more is high.
You don't want to exceed a total of 65 percent DV for
sodium from all foods in a day. Sixty-five percent DV is 1,500
milligrams of sodium.
sodium content for similar foods. This can really make a
difference. Use the Nutrition Facts label to select brands that are
lower in sodium.
- Use the
claims on the front of the food package to quickly identify foods
that contain less salt or that are a good source of potassium.
Examples include "low in sodium," "very low sodium," and "high in potassium."
- When you're preparing food at home, use herbs and spices to add flavor to your foods. Don't salt foods before or during cooking --- and limit use at the table.
salt substitutes containing potassium chloride may be useful for
some individuals, they can be harmful to people with certain
medical conditions. Consult your health care provider before using
- When you're eating out, ask that your meal be prepared without added salt or ask your server to identify foods that are made without added salt.
Information in this article was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.