You are here:

The lowdown on low sodium

Here’s how to keep your daily salt intake in check.

sodium daily salt intake
Image: Mark Poprocki/Thinkstock

Most men probably consume too much sodium, and new federal guidelines are aimed at helping them curb their habit.

The FDA advises no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily—the amount in about 1 teaspoon of salt. (People with prehypertension and hypertension should limit their intake to 1,500 mg, roughly the amount in 3/4 tea-spoon of salt.)

But the average man consumes an estimated 4,000 mg per day. Why is too much sodium so dangerous?

Excess sodium in your bloodstream signals your kidneys to hold on to more water. The extra fluid can cause high blood pressure and is a main contributor to cardiovascular disease. Excess sodium also may harm your kidneys and brain.

Adopting the FDA standards can make a huge impact. According to a 2010 analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine, trimming daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg could prevent up to 99,000 heart attacks and 66,000 strokes annually.

About 75% of dietary sodium comes from processed and restaurant foods, but men also need to be mindful about everyday eating habits. Here are some tips:

Understand Daily Value (DV). The percentage on food labels tells how much of the average person’s daily allotment of a nutrient is in one serving. As a general rule, 5% or less of the DV for sodium is low; 20% or more is high.

Watch your bread. Some bread has up to 230 mg of sodium in a single slice—10% of the DV. If there is more than 150 mg of sodium per serving, look for a lower-sodium brand.

Find new flavors. Season your food with fresh herbs and garlic instead of salt.

Kick the high-sodium cans. Canned foods like soups, beans, and vegetables often have low- or no-sodium options. Choose ones with 150 mg or less of sodium per serving.

Rinse off the sodium. Rinsing canned foods—even low-sodium items—can further reduce sodium.

Reduce portions when eating out. Less food equals less sodium, so order half portions. Also, ask that no salt be added to your meals and that any sauces be put on the side.

Salt and sodium: What is the difference?

Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in foods like celery, beets, and milk. Table salt is a combination of sodium (40%) and chloride (60%). You get most of the sodium in your diet from components like salt or baking soda added to processed, canned, or packaged foods.

Posted by: Dr.Health

Back to Top