Eat Less Salt

The Difference Between Salt and Sodium

What's the Difference Between Salt and Sodium?

Most people eat almost twice the recommended amount of sodium each day. Salt (sodium chloride also known as NaCl) is approximately 40% sodium. Ninety percent of the sodium consumed is in the form of salt.

When salt intake is reduced, blood pressure begins decreasing for most people in a few days to a few weeks. To learn more about the health impacts of eating too much salt, read: Sodium: The Facts from the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPDF

Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing. See a detailed list from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient DatabasePDF to learn more about the sodium in the foods you eat.

Salt Fact: One teaspoon of table salt contains about 2,300 milligrams of sodium.

Use the Nutrition Facts label and the list of ingredients to find foods lower in sodium. Foods with less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving can be labeled as low-sodium foods. For more information on finding sodium information on food labels, visit the American Heart Assocation.

Nearly 80% of the salt consumed comes from processed, packaged, and restaurant-prepared foods. Single items may contain more than a day's worth of sodium, the component of salt that affects blood pressure. The National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) is a national voluntary effort to reduce the salt in packaged and prepared foods.