World Salt Awareness World Salt Awareness
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Salt Awareness

You can lower sodium in your diet by reading nutrition facts labels and choosing foods that contain the lowest amount of sodium.

Less Salt, Please! World Salt Awareness

"Less salt, please" is the theme for the sixth annual World Salt Awareness Week taking place March 11–17. This year, World Salt Awareness Week will highlight the importance of reducing the sodium content of food prepared outside the home, such as in restaurants and other settings.

This year’s theme encourages chefs, caterers, and the prepared food industry to decrease the amount of sodium they add to food and to purchase lower sodium ingredients and products. Prepared meals and processed foods can contain high levels of sodium.

Why Is Reducing Sodium Important?

Consuming too much sodium increases your blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide the following recommendations1:

2,300 mg of sodium: The maximum amount of sodium that Americans aged 2 and up who do not fall in the categories below should consume in a day. 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium: The maximum amount of sodium that people who are 51 or older and those of any age who are African American or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease should consume in a day.

The amount of sodium that the average American consumes per day? About 3,400 mg of sodium—more than double the recommended maximum for the majority of adults.

Sources of Sodium

Many people are surprised to find that foods that seem healthy, such as low-fat deli turkey or light dressings, can be high in sodium.

CDC’s Sodium and Food Sources page shows which food categories are likely to contribute a lot of sodium to your daily diet. You will see that most of the sodium we eat—more than 75%—comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods. That means the sodium is in our food before we even buy it. CDC produced a video, Salt Matters: Preserving Choice, Protecting Health, that can tell you more about it.

What You Can Do

You can reduce your sodium intake by following these steps:

At restaurants, ask for low sodium options or ask for no added salt on your meal. Ask restaurants for nutrition information, or check online before you go to find the lower sodium options. Choose to purchase healthy options and talk with your grocer or favorite restaurant about stocking lower sodium food choices. Read the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods. Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce. Limit processed foods high in sodium. Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods in cafeterias and vending machines.

It is also important to consume enough potassium daily.1 Dietary potassium can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Potassium is found in many foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, and milk products.