While it’s an essential mineral that affects muscle function, helps send nerve impulses and controls your body’s fluid balance, sodium can also cause high blood pressure, which leads to heart disease, the number one killer worldwide. Eating less sodium can significantly reduce your risk for high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches.

Sodium survey

On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day! Regardless of your age, all Americans should first and foremost reduce their sodium intake, no matter how much you eat a day.

"Look for ways to reduce your sodium intake by cooking healthier meals at home and incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet."

The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium daily. Even better, and easily achievable, if you can reduce it to 1,500 milligrams. Because it is such a vital mineral, the body only needs less than 500 mg of sodium per day, a small amount equaling less than ¼ teaspoon.

Salty six

To understand how much sodium you are consuming, pay attention to nutrition labels and look out for words like salt and soda in addition to sodium. Stick to foods that advertise as sodium-free, very low sodium, low sodium, reduced (or less) sodium, light in sodium, etc.

The American Heart Association created the “Salty Six” infographic to show consumers the top six foods that contribute the most sodium to our diets. These foods include breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups and sandwiches.

Seeing sodium

Excessive amounts of sodium not only put you at risk for many health issues, but it can also affect your appearance as well. Eating too much sodium may cause increased water retention, leading to puffiness, bloating and even weight gain.

Bottom line: too much sodium is bad for your health. Look for ways to reduce your sodium intake by cooking healthier meals at home and incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet.