Halt the Salt

What does Salt have to do with Blood Pressure?

Eating too much salt — also called sodium — can raise your blood pressure. Research shows that for most people salt has a direct dose-dependent impact on blood pressure. This means for most people as salt intake increases so does blood pressure. Reducing your salt intake should result in a reduced blood pressure within weeks.

Too Much Salt can be Harmful

Because salt can increase your blood pressure, eating too much salt puts you at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

Many times we do not realize how much salt we are eating. It is important to be salt aware of the sodium content in foods. Examples of food that may have more salt than you think:

  • Restaurant or take-out food
  • Processed or packaged foods (soups, canned vegetables, tomato sauce)
  • Preserved or cured meats
  • Condiments (salad dressing, ketchup, soy sauce, spice mixes, etc.)
  • Breads and rolls

Did you know that most of the salt we eat – almost 80%, comes from pre-packaged, processed, prepared, and restaurant foods.

How Much Salt is Too Much?

Most adults should eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium daily. Some people need to be more careful about how much salt they consume. You should eat no more than 1500 mg if you are:

  • 51 years of age or older
  • African American
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease

Always follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

How can I Reduce the Amount of Sodium I Eat?

  • Cook meals at home – meals at restaurants generally have more sodium and more fat than you would use in a home cooked meal
  • Read the label on all packaged foods you buy – you want to aim for a daily value for sodium of 5% or less (Foods with 50mg of sodium/serving are very low in sodium and foods with 250mg of sodium/serving are very high in sodium)
  • Look for entrees with no more than 480 mg sodium per serving
  • Compare the amount of sodium in different brands- sometimes foods that appear to be the same have different sodium levels
  • Choose the option with lower sodium
  • Try frozen veggies instead of canned veggies
  • Look for low sodium options for chicken broth and other packaged foods

This information is provided by the Division of Prevention and Wellness within the Department of Public Health.