Most people are not even aware of how much salt they consume, as almost 75 percent of it comes from processed and prepared foods, including canned goods, cold cuts, and condiments as well as breads and cereals. Only about 10 percent comes from the salt we add during cooking or at the table; the rest is found naturally in food.

The American Heart Association estimates that adults consume, on average, 9 to 12 g of salt per day (or 3,600 to 4,800 mg of sodium). However, the recommended daily amount is no more than 5.8 g of salt (2,300 mg sodium); for blacks and people over age 40 who are more susceptible to hypertension and for those who already have hypertension, less than 3.8 g of salt (1,500 mg sodium) is ideal.

How To Lower Your Sodium Intake

Lowering salt intake has become a national goal. In 2010, a group of cities, states, and health organizations, formed to help food manufacturers and restaurants voluntarily reduce the amount of salt in their products. Their goal: to reduce salt intake by 20 percent over the next five years to potentially save tens of thousands of lives a year.

For now, though, controlling your salt intake is in your hands.

Publication Review By: Roger S. Blumenthal, M.D. and Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 15 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015