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This Is How Much Salt You Can Have A Day, According To A New Report

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March 6, 2019

With a pinch of salt here and a sprinkle there, it can be easy to lose track of how much you're consuming. Throw in a hunk of yummy cheese or some store-bought soup you needed in a pinch, and your salt intake gets even more mysterious.

The CDC reports that the average U.S. adult consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium daily1, which is approximately one and three-quarter teaspoons of salt, when the guidelines suggest less than 2,300 mg per day or more like one teaspoon per day. While this may not seem like a huge difference, a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows a reduction of daily sodium intake to this 2,300 mg level or less could result in major health benefits.

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The report looked at the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for sodium and potassium established in 2005 and updated the recommended daily consumptions for various age groups. While sodium and potassium are electrolytes necessary for maintaining healthy levels of fluid and blood volume in the body2, in high concentrations they can lead to elevated blood pressure, hence why the committee conducting the report developed a Chronic Disease Risk Reduction Intake (CDRR) for sodium. To do so, they compared different levels of sodium intake to indicators of chronic disease such as the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and high blood pressure. 

The analysis showed that anyone who is consuming above 2,300 mg per day of sodium should decrease their intake to this number or below to reduce their risk of chronic disease. The report did not provide a CDRR recommendation for potassium because more research is needed on potassium levels and chronic disease before drawing conclusions. 

While it may sound challenging to figure out how much sodium you're consuming in a day, there's a good chance you're having a little too much. For starters, it's easier to control your intake of refined salt that you add to food yourself. Double check the processed red meat, poultry, soup, pizza, bread, and sandwiches, where sodium is most often hiding, and scan the nutritional information on packaged foods. Pay special attention to foods that seem healthy but can have hidden salt like canned veggies, soups, dried fruits, and pasteurized cheeses.

If this has you feeling salty, hear us out: Incorporating salt into your food is not just tasty, but it's a necessary nutrient for us to live. Keeping your sodium intake in check, however, will reduce your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, which is definitely the sugar on top.

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