Do I need to eat less salt?

Reducing your sodium intake can help your blood pressure.
Reducing your sodium intake can help your blood pressure.

Eating a diet high in salt is associated with high blood pressure. According to nutrition experts, you should try to keep your daily intake of sodium to less than 2,400 mg. This equals about 1 1/4 teaspoons of table salt.

Some groups of people are much more sensitive to salt in their diet. This includes the following groups:

  • people who are overweight
  • women
  • the elderly
  • African Americans

These people are more sensitive to salt because their kidneys give off more of the chemical renin. Renin narrows blood vessels, increasing blood pressure. Everyone with high blood pressure, especially those who are salt sensitive, should reduce the amount of salt they eat.

How Can I Cut Back on Salt?

Here are three tips to get you started on reducing the amount of salt you eat.

  • Since 75% of sodium, known as salt, intake comes from processed foods, you can reduce the salt in your diet by selecting canned foods with little or no salt added. If salt is added, be sure to rinse the foods before using them. You can also choose fresh rather than processed foods.
  • Don't be fooled that you are limiting your salt intake by only avoiding obviously salty foods, such as potato chips. You may be surprised to find out that many of the foods that you commonly eat, such as many types of bread, salad dressings, and soups, are also high in salt. Be sure to read the nutrition labels on all packaged foods to find out how much salt they contain. Choose those foods with the least amount of sodium added.

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