How Much Salt Do You Really Eat?

Whenever you think of eating excess salt, you probably envision someone pouring it directly onto their food from a salt shaker. And while there are still way too many Americans salting up their food at home, there’s an awful lot of added salt in the processed foods that we regularly consume.

The average person in America eats about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, or about 3400 milligrams, per day. The current dietary guidelines suggest that we should keep our sodium intake to about 2300 milligrams day, which means the average American is getting about 50 percent more sodium than necessary. Those who are at risk for heart disease are in even worse shape. Their recommendation is only 1500 milligrams, meaning they’re probably consuming more than twice what they should. As if that weren’t enough, new research suggests that the standard guidelines may need to be rewritten, suggesting that 2300 milligrams may even be too much, and calling for even more dramatic cuts in our overall sodium intake.

Regardless of what these new studies find, the American Heart Association reports that most Americans are still eating way too much salt, and almost 75 percent of a person’s daily salt intake comes from processed food or from foods consumed in restaurants.

Sneaky Sodium Snacks

Salt doesn’t just live in potato chips. Here’s a list of foods that you may not think of as being high in sodium, yet pack a salty wallop:

  • Oatmeal – You may think that you’re having a healthy breakfast, but some instant oatmeal can contain over 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. Oatmeal is a great breakfast, but it pays to spend the extra couple of minutes cooking it on the stove.
  • Red sauce or marinara – We typically eat way more of this than we need. If you ever wake up puffy after a spaghetti dinner, you now know why- tomato sauces can have over 600 milligrams of sodium in a single serving.
  • Bread – Just one slice of a typical bread can contain anywhere from hundred milligrams or more of sodium. When you realize that bread is generally eaten in pairs, that adds up to a whole lot of extra salt.
  • Canned vegetables – Sometimes it’s hard to pass up the convenience of canned vegetables, but if you must indulge, try to choose veggies without any added salt. Or better yet, eat frozen vegetables.
  • Ketchup – The serving size for ketchup is one tablespoon. The typical serving of ketchup contains over 150 milligrams of sodium. When was the last time you limited yourself to one tablespoon of ketchup?
  • Soup – Chicken soup may be the perfect cure for the common cold, but it’s also crammed full of sodium if you buy it in a can. Try to make your own chicken noodle soup. Not only will it taste better, it will be a lot better for you.

Almost everyone can benefit from reducing their salt intake. If you think you can benefit from a sodium restricted diet, consult your chiropractor, nutritionist or primary care physician. They’ll be able to tell you how much salt is healthy for a person of your age and activity level.


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This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.