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Home > Health Archive > Sodium


Sodium / Salt

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It's present in nearly all foods.
It's essential to life.
It enhances the flavor and texture of many foods.
It can be difficult to sort out all the facts about it.


Questions & Answers about Salt vs. Sodium

Q: How do salt and sodium differ?
A: Table salt is 40% sodium. The other 60% is chloride. Salt (sodium chloride) is the major contributor of sodium in our diets.

Q: Should I try to eliminate foods with sodium from my diet?
A: No. Sodium is an essential nutrient. The body needs a small amount of sodium. Health experts suggest choosing a diet moderate in salt and sodium.

What is a Diet Moderate in Sodium?

  • Food labels state that the "daily value" for sodium is less than 2,400 milligrams per day.
  • Health experts realize that many people consume more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Less than the 2,400 milligram sodium goal may be unnecessarily low for many healthy people.
  • Other individuals on medically prescribed diets might need to consume less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day.

Getting a Read on High Blood Pressure

  • Many factors are associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) including family history, body weight, one's age and, for some people, sodium intake.
  • High blood pressure is one factor that increases the chance of heart disease and strokes, but the exact causes of high blood pressure and how to prevent it are not fully understood.

Who is at Risk for Hypertension?

Overweight Individuals Older Individuals Certain Ethnic Groups
One of the most effective ways to manage hypertension is to keep your body weight within a healthful range. Keep physically active and watch your total calorie intake. Regular physical activity - even a moderate amount - can aid in weight loss and help reduce high blood pressure in some people Not all older people have hypertension, but the chances of having high blood pressure increase as we grow older. Due to genetic factors, African Americans tend to have higher rates of hypertension. Scientists are currently researching these genetic factors so that more prevention and treatment measures can be developed.

Shape Up Foods - with Flavor

  • Give your foods some Mexican zing with chili powder, cilantro, cumin and garlic.
  • Dishes get an Asian accent with garlic, ginger and red (cayenne) pepper.
  • Enjoy foods Italian-style with basil, garlic, parsley and oregano.

Learn About Label Terms for Sodium

Here's what food product labels tell you about sodium:

Sodium Free Less than 5 milligrams sodium per serving
Low Sodium 140 milligrams or less sodium per serving
Reduced/Lower Sodium At least 25% less sodium per serving when compared to a similar food
No Salt Added No salt is added during processing (when this product is normally processed with salt). The product may not be a sodium free food, so check Nutrition Facts


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