Salt – How Much is Too Much? – 5 Easy Ways to Lower Salt Intake


I truly believe that many Americans are consuming way too much salt, do you?

One of my dearest friends Fran, recently asked me why someone would suggest adding additional salt to a watermelon salad that contains feta cheese (given the fact the most feta cheese is fairly salty.)  My answer was that I didn’t think you’d need to.  I hope that you all have noticed that I try not to use very much salt in my recipes.  Now, some recipes require salt for the proper chemical reaction to occur…but most of the time, heavy use of salt is not necessary.


Fran and her hubs are trying to reduce the amount of salt that they are consuming and I really applaud them for this.  They are now looking at food labels closely and noticing just how much salt creeps into their diet.  Fran is diligent about finding products that fit their new regime and many manufacturers are realizing that more and more of us are looking for these low sodium alternatives.  She’s also scouting out resources for “no salt” items such as nuts, chips and ketchup.  By doing her homework, she has found many foods that are really helping to reduce their daily salt consumption.  I have to say that we do have to remember even natural foods such as carrots and milk contain a slight amount of naturally occurring sodium,  so you should take that into account as well.


So, how much salt do you really need per day in your diet?  Dietary guidelines recommend 2,300 mg a day for those folks under 51, and only 1,500 mg for those above that age or if you are diabetic, have high blood pressure or kidney disease.  We need salt to every day to control and correctly balance the fluids in our bodies, but too much salt can lead to fluid retention which can increase your blood pressure.   If you develop chronic high blood pressure it can lead to a variety of problems…heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease.  Some folks are more salt sensitive than others, for them it’s even more important to watch the amount of salt they consume.  Just one teaspoon of table salt contains 2,358 mg of sodium.

So what are some easy ways to get started lowering your sodium intake?


5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Sodium Intake

1. Look at labels – become aware of how much sodium is listed for the products that you purchase.  I believe that if you realize how much sodium items contain,  you may make better choices or at least balance those items with ones containing less sodium.

2. Look for items that are “low sodium” or “no sodium”.  You might just be surprised at just how many of your favorite products offer this alternative.  You don’t always have to make the soup from “scratch”, you just need to reach for a different can.  Soy sauce is a great example: 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce contains around 1,100 mg of sodium, while the low sodium alternative has only about 550 mg.  That’s a savings of 50% of the sodium content!

3.  Use less.  If a recipe calls for salt, try using less than the amount listed.   Also, salt the food right before it is served, instead of while you are cooking it.   You can use less and it will still taste salted.

4. Taste your food before you salt it.   We’ve all seen this.  A person liberally sprinkles salt on untasted food out of habit, not necessity.

5. When you eat out, ask if the kitchen can use less salt.  Most restaurants use liberal amounts of salt because it’s the world’s least expensive flavor enhancer, but I’ve found that if you ask them to use less, they do.


Our taste buds have become accustomed to salt and it will take a bit of time to get used to using less, but once you do, you’ll actually taste the natural goodness of the food more and it’s better for your health.  Try it!



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