Sodium is important for keeping a balance in pressure between the inside and outside of our cells. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure may increase the risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

We can get some sodium, naturally, in foods, like milk and fresh vegetables. Most sodium in our diets comes from salt we add to foods during preparation or processing. We may also add salt and salty sauces to food at the table.

When we use less sodium and salt our liking for salty foods decreases over time. To cut down on sodium we can:

  1. Read labels to find food with less sodium.
  2. Taste foods before adding salt and then add less salt during cooking and at the table.
  3. Use spices for flavoring instead of salt.
  4. Use garlic or onion powder instead flavored salts like garlic salt or onion salt.

Source: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans," Home and Garden Bulletin 232. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.

To find out how much sodium you need, "Ask the Nutritionist."

To test what you know about sodium, take the Quiz on Sodium.

To find out how much sodium you are eating go to the file "How's Your Sodium Intake?"

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