Can Too Much Salt Cause High Blood Pressure?

Health Professional

Earlier this month (February 2012), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing that nine out of ten adults eat too much salt daily.

This excess salt is not the salt you are adding with the salt shaker. The high salt diet comes from processed foods and restaurant meals.

A diet high in sodium (salt) leads to high blood pressure. This equals an increased risk for developing heart disease and having a stroke.

According to CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, heart disease and strokes are responsible for the deaths of more than 800,000 Americans annually and add approximately $273 BILLION dollars to health care costs.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend salt be limited to no more than 2300 milligrams per day. This recommendation may be even lower (no more than 1500 milligrams per day) depending on your ethnicity, age, and medical history.

The average adult in the U.S. consumes more than 3300 milligrams of salt each day.

10 Foods Contributing the Most Sodium

The CDC identified ten foods or types of food that contribute more than 40% of the sodium in most people's diets. Here are the ten foods:

1. Pizza
2. Soups
3. Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
4. Deli lunch meats
5. Breads and rolls
6. Poultry
7. Cheese
8. Pasta mixed dishes
9. Meat mixed dishes
10. Snack foods (i.e. pretzels, potato chips, & popcorn)

Two-thirds (66%) of the sodium we eat or drink comes from foods/beverages purchased at retail stores, such as grocery stores and convenience stores. It's important to select low sodium options to reduce sodium intake. Be aware that different brands provide different sodium contents. For example, the sodium content of chicken noodle soup can differ by ~800 milligrams per serving depending on the brand you opt to buy. Read the food labels.

One-quarter (25%) of the salt we consume comes from what we order in restaurants.

According to the CDC report, only 5% of the salt in our daily diet comes from at home food preparation and what is added at the table.

The CDC also stats the decreasing sodium intake by just 10% would prevent approximately 28,000 deaths each year.

How to Decrease Sodium Intake

Be aware of hidden sodium sources. Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of processed foods and restaurant meals. Learn more about and implement the DASH diet.

Decreasing sodium intake is one effective step towards lowering blood pressure and promoting heart health. To learn more, register for the free ecourse 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at