Researchers suggest that lowering sodium intake could reduce hypertension cases by 11 million, and save $18 billion in healthcare costs.

Reduce sodium to control blood pressure

Salt Food Sodium

Hypertension and pre-hypertension are conditions that are prevalent among American adults. Two-thirds of adults 60 years of age and older have hypertension, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. And only about half of those with hypertension actually have it controlled to a reading of 140/90 or less.

Reducing sodium intake may help with both the prevention of hypertension and its treatment. Researchers suggest that lowering sodium intake could reduce hypertension cases by 11 million, and save $18 billion in healthcare costs.

How much sodium is OK?

  • 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. This equals 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day is best if you are 51 years and older or have hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease.     

Research also shows that too much sodium may cause  

  • Arterial stiffness
  • Enlargement of heart muscle
  • Reduced kidney function

Approximately 70 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods – foods that have been prepared for us in some way. Even commercially made breads and rolls have salt added, and of course, if you eat out, salt is usually used in the food preparation.

Tips to lower sodium:

  • Have a few more meals made at home from scratch to save both sodium and money.
  • Make homemade spaghetti sauce using no-salt-added canned tomatoes and tomato paste to get only 50 mg sodium per ½ cup serving vs. pre-made jarred spaghetti sauce with 800 mg sodium per ½ cup serving.
  • When you grocery shop, compare the Nutrition Facts label that is required by law to be on every single food package. You can easily look at the sodium content per serving, and bring home lower-sodium items. It does take a few extra minutes, but it's worth it.

Recipes to reduce sodium intake:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.