March 01, 2019

Reducing salt intake

Keeping flavor

Reducing sodium intake and eating a heart-healthy diet, which is often naturally low in sodium, are key parts of most plans to control high blood pressure (hypertension). Most plans also include taking a drug to lower blood pressure, but diet changes can sometimes delay the need for medication, or reduce the amount of medication you need.

Not everyone experiences reduced blood pressure with reduced sodium intake, but those most likely to experience it include older adults, African Americans, those with more-severe hypertension and those with diabetes or kidney disease.

It's generally recommended that adults keep their daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less. That's the amount of sodium in 1 teaspoon of salt. Those with hypertension, kidney disease, heart failure or certain other conditions may benefit from consuming less than that.

Despite the recommendations, the average American female consumes about 3,000 mg daily, and the average American male consumes 4,200 mg. About 80 percent of that total comes from processed and restaurant foods. Your saltshaker — or adding table salt in cooking — can also contribute, but often it's not the main source.

Saving flavor

You can cut back on sodium in your foods and drinks, but still keep outstanding flavor, by:

  • Eating minimally processed foods — Recommendations for a heart healthy diet typically hit the mark for low-sodium intake. This includes a diet focused on minimally processed plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Round that out...