Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium

Vital Signs: Reducing Sodium in Children's Diet

Click on the infographic to view it and other infographics related to children and reducing sodium in their diet.

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

Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets

Nearly 9 in 10 US children eat more sodium than recommended, and about 1 in 9 children has raised blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lowering sodium in children’s diets today can help prevent heart disease tomorrow. Small changes make a big impact on your child’s daily sodium intake.

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 Initiative

CDC is working 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 initiatives 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 Initiative.

Dietary Guidelines for Sodium

The 2015-2020 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.

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

Sodium Reduction Targets

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released draft, voluntary sodium reduction targetsexternal icon for processed and prepared foods. This new 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.

Healthy Eating Communications Kit
Health professionals can share these social media messages, graphics, and resources to educate their social and professional networks about the importance of healthy eating and cutting down on sodium.

Healthy Lifestyle Goals Calendar

Eat Smart, Move More! Healthy Lifestyle Goals Fillable Calendar pdf icon[PDF-934K]
This fillable calendar can help your patients reach their healthy eating and physical activity goals one day at a time. Here are some ideas to get you started and some space for you to fill in your own goals.

Person getting their blood pressure taken.

2017 Hypertension Clinical Practice Guidelines Released
The “2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines” was released on Monday, November 13, 2017.

  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.­­­