What people need to know about sodium.
Healthy tip: Watch your salt intake
Sodium is another ingredient that is frequently added to food to improve taste, even though your body needs less than one gram of sodium a day (about half a teaspoon of table salt). Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, memory loss, and erectile dysfunction. It may also worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Use herbs and spices such as garlic, curry powder, cayenne or black pepper to improve the flavor of meals instead of salt.
- Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with sodium. Some offer lower-sodium choices or you can ask for your meal to be made without salt.
- Buy unsalted nuts and add a little of your own salt until your taste buds are accustomed to eating them salt-free.
Too much sodium in the diet may lead to:
- High blood pressure in some people
- A serious buildup of fluid in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or kidney disease
Sodium in the diet (called dietary sodium) is measured in milligrams (mg). Table salt is 40% sodium; 1 teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium.
Healthy adults should limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day. Adults with high blood pressure should have no more than 1,500 mg per day. Those with congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and kidney disease may need much lower amounts.
There are no specific recommended amounts of sodium for infants, children, and teens. Eating habits and attitudes about food that are formed during childhood are likely to influence eating habits for life. For this reason, it is a good idea for children to avoid eating too much salt.