Lower your salt intake for better health

Americans consume too much salt. Higher levels of sodium in the diet can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.

Salt definitely has a history – it has helped shape civilizations, created and destroyed empires and has been the major factor in the outcome of wars between tribes and nations. For many years, salt was an essential medicinal component and was used to preserve food without refrigeration.

Fast forward to 2012. Today, salt is inexpensive, easily accessible and over-used. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 9 in 10 Americans, age 2 years and older, eat too much sodium. The maximum recommendation for sodium is 2,300 milligrams per day. However, nearly 70 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered at high risk of health problems associated with salt and should be limiting their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams.

Studies show that consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure, which often leads to other health problems including stoke, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. Salt has also been associated with stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

Use the following guidelines to help reduce sodium in your diet:

  • When shopping, read the Nutrition Facts labels of your favorite foods to find the lowest sodium options.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen or canned. Choose “no salt added” options.
  • Taste your food before salting it.
  • Limit your consumption of processed foods.
  • Season foods with herbs and spices.
  • Use canola or olive oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking.
  • Talk to your doctor before using salt substitutes – many contain potassium.
  • Don’t be fooled by recipes that have little or no salt – ingredients such as creamed soups, bouillon cubes and condiments are high in salt.

For more information on sodium in the diet, check out the following websites:

For other helpful information from Michigan State University Extension educators, see these articles:

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