Nutrition Blog‎ > ‎

Salt: Friend or Foe

posted Feb 10, 2017, 6:26 AM by Tracy Ducker, MS, RDN
We have a love-hate relationship with salt. We love it because it makes food taste good and our bodies actually need it.  Table salt is comprised of sodium, which regulates body fluids and nerve impulses and muscle contractions; and chloride, which is which is necessary for regulating blood volume, blood pressure and keeping the proper pH of our body fluids. But, we hate it because in excess it can cause hypertension and lead to heart disease.

Most Americans consume too much salt, upwards of 3,000-5,000 mg/day. According to the American Heart Association the recommended amount for adults is 2,300mg/day.

Where does most of the sodium in our diet come from? The salt shaker? Processed foods? Restaurant foods? If you guessed processed foods or restaurants- you are correct. About 77% of consumed sodium comes from prepackaged, processed foods and restaurant foods. The American Heart Association has the Salty Six which are the top 6 foods, consumed by Americans, with the highest amounts of sodium. Cold cuts and pizza are at the top of the list. But don’t fear there are ways to cut the sodium without sacrificing taste:

Switch to pasta sauce with no added salt and add additional herbs and spices 

Use salt free herbs and spices when cooking instead of salt

Eat at home more often

Use vinegar and oil instead of salad dressing or make your own salad dressing

Make your own soup instead of using canned soup

Eat more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables

Limit the amount of cured meats

Read labels and choose lower sodium items

If you use canned foods, buy low/no sodium or drain and rinse first


To help you decrease the amount of sodium you can use this reference:

1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium

1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium

3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium

1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium


According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (May 2016) a daily reduction of 1200 mg of sodium would save 44,000-92,000 lives per year. Look for these lower sodium items at your ILC cafeteria and check out the recipes on our website, Mixed Grain Salad, Fresh Fruit Salad with Lime Mint Dressing, and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.

Keep your heart healthy.