Salt

Most People Consume Too Much Salt

Family cooking together in the kitchen.

Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt, and the vast majority of sodium we consume is in processed and restaurant foods. Your body needs a small amount of sodium to work properly, but too much sodium is bad for your health.

Excess sodium can increase your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease and stroke. Together, heart disease and stroke kill more Americans each year than any other cause.1

Sources of Sodium

Americans get about 70% of their daily sodium from processed and restaurant foods.2 What is processed food?

Sodium is already in processed and restaurant foods when you purchase them, which makes it difficult to reduce daily sodium intake on your own. Although it is wise to limit your use of added table salt while cooking and at the table, only a small amount of the sodium we consume each day comes from the salt shaker.

Balancing Act: Sodium and Potassium

Did you know that sodium and potassium both affect blood pressure? In general, people who reduce sodium, who increase potassium, or who do both benefit from having lower blood pressure and reducing their risk for other serious health problems. Eating enough potassium each day can help balance out some of the harmful effects that high sodium intake can have on blood pressure. But lowering sodium intake is key to this balance.

CDC's Sodium Reduction Efforts

CDC works at the national, state, and local levels to help reduce sodium in the food supply. CDC’s approach to sodium reduction includes supporting and evaluating ongoing efforts to reduce sodium, providing technical assistance to the public health community, expanding the scientific literature related to sodium reduction, collaborating with stakeholders, and educating the public. Learn more about CDC’s sodium reduction efforts.

Guidelines and Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for Sodium

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern.

The 2019 report Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassiumexternal icon from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reviews current evidence and updates DRIs for sodium and potassium that were established in 2005.

Nearly everyone benefits from lower sodium intake. Learn more about who benefits in this CDC report.

Sodium Reduction Targets

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed draft, voluntary sodium reduction targetsexternal icon for processed and prepared foods. This guidance lays out achievable short-term and long-term goals for sodium reduction in about 150 categories of food. To learn more about sodium reduction, read the article in the Journal of the American Medical Associationexternal icon (JAMA). For more information about the science supporting sodium reduction and why accurate measurement matters, read the New England Journal of Medicineexternal icon (NEJM) article.

Featured Items
Fresh vegetables.

Sodium Q&A pdf icon[PDF – 614 KB]
Read answers to frequently asked questions about sodium. Learn about the difference between sodium and salt, why reducing sodium intake is important, what you can do to reduce sodium consumption, and more.

A family.

Sodium 101: Put Your Sodium Smarts to the Testexternal icon
Share this quiz with your audiences to test their sodium savviness and to help them learn ways to reduce sodium!

Healthy Lifestyle Goals Calendar

Sodium Reduction: Policy Evidence Assessment Report (PEAR)
Read a summary of this report, which assesses the strength and quality of the best available evidence for six policy interventions to reduce sodium consumption among the adult population.

References
  1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009. Nat Vital Stat Rep. 2011;60(3).
  2. Harnack LJ, Cogswell ME, Shikany JM, Gardner CD, Gillespie C, Loria CM, et al. Sources of sodium in US adults from 3 geographic regionsexternal icon. Circulation. 2017;135(19):1775–1783.­­­