How Much Sodium You Should Be Eating Daily — and Which Foods Have the Most Salt

Is salt something to worry about? Maybe — if you aren’t paying attention.

Whether you can’t seem to enjoy your food without drowning it in salt or you just don’t think about how much is in what you eat every day, awareness matters.

Conditions like high blood pressure are known as “silent killers” because they progress without symptoms. And you can’t prevent what you don’t know you have — unless you’re watching your risk factors closely.

Want to know if how much sodium you’re eating falls within a safe range? Here’s what the experts say.

What happens when you eat too much salt?

Salt shaker

Salt shaker | Sebalos/iStock/Getty Images

You’ve likely heard that eating too much salt is bad for your blood pressure and heart. The habit can do much more harm than that, often leading to health issues such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks, heart disease, and heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Kidney problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer.

Though recommendations vary, health experts agree you shouldn’t consume too much sodium. What’s not as clear is how little sodium you can get away with eating every day. Here’s what those numbers look like.

How much sodium should you eat?

Everyone should aim to consume between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, or no more than one teaspoon. But this doesn’t just mean you should avoid reaching for the salt shaker.

Foods hide sodium the same way they conceal sugar. There are some restaurant options that provide more salt per meal than you’re supposed to have in an entire day.

When it comes to sodium, less is almost always more.

But you shouldn’t try cutting salt out of your diet altogether. This can cause insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. These are all measures and conditions that can hurt your heart — the opposite of what minding your sodium intake is supposed to accomplish.

The best thing to do is limit the amount of high-sodium foods you eat every day while balancing that with low-sodium options. Over time, you might get used to eating meals and snacks that aren’t so salty. It takes some time to adjust, but before long, you won’t even miss it.

Foods high in sodium


Pizza | Bartosz Luczak/iStock/Getty Images

It’s easy to underestimate your salt intake — especially when things don’t “taste” salty. But checking food labels is just one way to familiarize yourself with the foods potentially endangering your heart.

Some common meals, side dishes, and snacks high in sodium might include:

  • Frozen pizzas
  • Canned beans (with salt added)
  • Smoked or cured bacon
  • Salted nuts
  • Frozen meals
  • Canned fish and other meats
  • Cheese spreads and sauces

Foods low in salt include fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry, eggs, dry beans, yogurt, rice, and pasta.

Your goal should be to eat more foods naturally low in sodium, like fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed meats, and fewer “junk” foods. You don’t have to stop eating sweets, snacks, and other food favorites. Just do your best to find balance.

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