Americans consume too much sodium, both from added salt and high sodium levels in packaged and restaurant food.
Sodium Myths and Facts
The benefits of sodium reduction haven't been proved.
A large body of strong scientific evidence shows that greater sodium intake causes higher blood pressure, and that reducing sodium intake lowers blood pressure.
The amount of sodium I consume is a personal choice.
Restaurant food and processed food in stores have so much sodium already added that, in practice, there is little choice for those who want to consume less sodium. Three-quarters of the sodium we consume has been put into our food before we buy it.
There are more important dietary changes to make than sodium reduction.
Sodium needs attention because excess intake increases blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major public health problem for millions of Americans.
Lowering my sodium won't have much effect on my blood pressure.
Even moderate changes in sodium intake can have significant benefits. A 10 percent reduction in sodium consumption could prevent 480,000 U.S. heart attacks and 500,000 strokes.
Food with less sodium wouldn't taste good.
A person's taste for salt – the major source of sodium – can change. Americans' current appetite for salt likely comes from excess salt in the food supply. Gradually reducing sodium in food will allow individual tastes to adjust.
The food industry should reduce sodium for me, so I won't have to change my habits.
For nearly 40 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been asking the food industry to voluntarily reduce sodium, but most manufacturers have not chosen to do so. Voluntary change alone is unlikely to be sufficient. Successful sodium reduction will require action from consumers, policy makers, and the industry.
High sodium consumption raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke — the nation's first and third leading causes of death in 2008.