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Understanding Salt/Sodium

Contact the Healthiest Weight Florida Program

  •  850-245-4100

    Mailing Address

    Division of Community Health Promotion 

    4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A13 

    Tallahassee FL 32399 

Most Americans should consume less sodium.  The average person intakes about 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day (averaging about 3,393 mg per day), although the recommended daily amount is much less.

Sodium Guidelines

Most sodium consumed in the United States comes from salt added during commercial food processing and preparation, including foods prepared at restaurants. Too much sodium is bad for your health. It can increase your blood pressure and your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in Florida.

Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that adults in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Eating less sodium can help manage high blood pressure.

At the same time, consuming potassium-rich foods, such as beans, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, and oranges are important in managing high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) because potassium can lessen the effects of sodium.

However, if you are in the following population groups below, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation of 4,700 mg/day.

  • You are 51 years of age or older.
  • You are African American.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have chronic kidney disease.

Sodium and Blood Pressure

Eating less sodium may help manage high blood pressure. Sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden on the heart. Too much sodium in the diet may also have other harmful health effects, including increased risk for stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease. 

The American Heart Association suggests consuming no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Eating less sodium can reduce your risk for high blood pressure, bloating and other effects of too much salt. 

Tips for Reducing Sodium in the Diet

  • Read the Nutrition Facts label to compare and find foods lower in sodium. 
  • Increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, when possible.
  • Limit the amount of processed foods you eat.
  • Limit your portion sizes. 
  • Reduce adding salt when cooking and/or eating.
  • Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food. Most spices naturally contain very small amounts of sodium, but read the label to be sure.
  • Add fresh lemon juice instead of salt to fish and vegetables.
  • Specify how you want your food prepared when dining out. Ask for your dish to be prepared with little to no salt.
  • Take control of what’s in your food by cooking more at home.
  • Choose foods with potassium. They counter the effects of sodium and may help lower your blood pressure.

To learn more about sodium facts visit the Center for Disease Control at

Also, visit the American Heart Association for facts, diets, cookbooks, and strategies to reduce sodium consumption at