The typical American adult consumes about 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day — about one and a half teaspoons of salt — but we should be having no more than 2,300 milligrams, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Nine of 10 Americans consume more sodium than the recommended limits, according to a 2016 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Excess sodium is a common problem, with 98% of men and 80% of women consuming too much.
It can put you at risk for kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other health problems.
And it’s not just coming from the salt shaker. Moste sodium in the American diet comes from packaged or restaurant foods.
Here are some tips from the CDC on getting sodium under control:
At the grocery store
- Buy fresh, frozen or canned vegetables with no salt or sauce added.
- With packaged foods, look for “low-sodium,” “reduced-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
- When buying prepared meals, look for those with under 600 milligrams of sodium per meal — the upper limit set by the Food and Drug Administration for a meal or main dish to be labeled healthy.
- When cooking, use alternatives to replace or reduce the amount of salt — like garlic, citrus juice, salt-free seasonings and spices.
- Have more fresh fruits and vegetables.
When dining out
- Ask for nutrition information before you order, and select a lower-sodium meal.
- Request that no salt be added to your meal.
Check with your health-care provider about your sodium level and whether you need to take steps to lower it.
Environmental Nutrition is an independent newsletter written by experts on nutrition and health.