Do we crave foods with lots of salt?

Yes. We've grown accustomed to consuming a higher level of sodium than we need. A lot of our cravings, including our desire for salt, develop over time. The more high-sodium foods we eat, the more we eventually want.

According to preliminary research in animals, sodium may act as an antidepressant. When we're in a bad mood, we may automatically reach for salty foods. More research needs to be done to confirm these findings.

Why is it dangerous to consume excess sodium?

Over time, it raises your chances of high blood pressure, a serious condition that, when uncontrolled, damages blood vessels throughout the body. High blood pressure can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke, as well as other health problems.

Of course, to lower your risks for high blood pressure, it's not sufficient to focus just on sodium. You also need to be taking other steps, such as

  • engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day,
  • losing excess weight,
  • quitting smoking
  • and minimizing your consumption of alcohol.

What efforts are the government and food industry making to lower sodium consumption in the United States?

The CDC, in collaboration with various government agencies, is working with food manufacturers and chain restaurants to lower sodium levels in foods and improve cardiovascular health for the nation. In addition, CDC will continue working with their public health partners at the national, state, and local levels to support these efforts.

Reproduced from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Additional Sources:

CDC. "Vital Signs: Food Categories Contributing the Most to Sodium Consumption — United States, 2007–2008" Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm61e0207a1.htm?s_cid=mm61e0207a1_w Accessed on: February 10, 2012.

FDA. "Code of Federal Regulations Title 21." Available at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.61 Accessed on February 15, 2012.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 01 May 2009

Last Modified: 29 Aug 2013