Sodium and salt
The words sodium and salt are not exactly the same, but they are often used interchangeably. Sodium chloride is the chemical name for salt. Table salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. One level teaspoon of salt is approximately 2,300 mg of sodium.
Why we are concerned about sodium
High sodium intake can raise blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. To learn more about sodium and your health you can read: Sodium Q&A
Dietary recommendations for sodium
For healthy adults, the recommendation is no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day from all sources. The recommendation is
no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes; you are black; or you are middle-aged or older. The recommendations include sodium in processed or prepared foods, added during cooking, and added at the table. For more information on dietary guidelines see:
Sources of sodium
Most of the sodium consumed is from processed and restaurant foods. Only a small amount is added during cooking while eating. People trying to eat less sodium tend to consume more than they mean to because it's in the food they buy. The National Salt Reduction Initiative is a national voluntary effort to reduce the salt in packaged and prepared foods.
Read the nutrition facts label to learn how much sodium is in the food products you eat:
- Check the number of servings. Know how much is one serving and how many servings you will be eating if you eat it all.
- Check the amount of sodium. There are 470 mg of sodium in one serving.
- If the entire container is eaten that is 940 mg of sodium.
- Look for foods with less than 200 mg of sodium in one serving.
Some food labels state that they are "low sodium" or "sodium free". Here is what they mean:
- Sodium-free or salt free- Each serving in this product contains less than 5 mg of sodium.
- Very low sodium- Each serving contains 35 mg of sodium or less.
- Low sodium-Each serving contains 140 mg of sodium or less.
- Reduced or less sodium-The product contains at least 25% less sodium than the regular version
- Lite or light in sodium- The sodium content has been reduced by at least 50% from the regular version.
- Unsalted or no salt added-No salt is added during processing of a food that normally contains salt. However, some foods with these labels may still be high in sodium.
The Minnesota Department of Health along with it's partners, are working to increase the nutritional value of foods purchased for school lunches, focusing on reduced sodium and saturated fat, and increased whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Minnesota, along with it's partners, will support implementation strategies of the Institute of Medicine Report on Sodium Reduction and the Minnesota Obesity Plan.
Minnesota, along with many other states, is participating in the National Salt Reduction Initiative led by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
- American Heart Association
- American Heart Association Sodium Challenge
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Salt Publications
- Centers for Disease Control Sodium Resources
- Center for Disease Control Streaming Health Videos
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Food and Drug Administration
- Institute of Medicine
- National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus
- Primary Care Tipsheet (pdf 748KB 1 page)
For questions, or for more information please call 651-201-5419.
| Institute of Medicine
Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence