June 25th, 2010
02:01 PM ET

Study: Americans eat too much salt

Nine out of 10 Americans eat too much salt every day, and many of them get more than twice the recommended daily amount, according to a new report from the CDC.

Researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 U.S. adults and found that they consumed a daily average of almost 3,500 milligrams of sodium. Current dietary guidelines say that Americans should get less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.  However a government advisory panel recently urged officials to decrease the recommended daily sodium limit to 1,500 milligrams for all Americans.  Even people who steer clear of salty foods may not be avoiding excessive sodium. The report notes that many foods with a high sodium count, like breads, cookies and crackers, may not taste salty.

“Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits,” according to a statement by Janelle Peralez Gunn, lead author of the report.

Eating a lot of sodium increases blood pressure, which increases the risk for stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and renal disease, according to the CDC. Current guidelines advise people already at high risk for these diseases to keep their sodium levels below the 1,500-milligram mark.

In the report, researchers note that almost two-thirds of the sodium in a typical American diet comes from processed grains, like pizza and cookies, and meats, like poultry and lunch meat. They also estimate that 77 percent of daily sodium comes from processed and restaurant foods.

soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Patrick

    I disagree with Rachel. Salt is delicious and Rachel Ray rules.

    June 26, 2010 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. adi

    I agree with Patrick: salt is delicious. I also agree with Rachel, moderation is the key.

    June 26, 2010 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. truebob

    I don't but it. All my life everyone was screaming about cholesterol and trashing eggs. Now it turns out the the cholesterol in my diet has little to do with the cholesterol in my blood. When I was young it was low fat this and low fat that. Suddenly it's the bread and the rice and the potatoes that are so wrong. I think I will stay away from excess, keep exercising, and take my chances. Nobody gets out alive and I would rather have some salt with my tequila, thank you.

    June 26, 2010 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 3ric

      If you need salt with your tequila, it means you are drinking the wrong tequila. Good tequila does not require salt or a lime slice. What you need to do is go down to Mexico and get one of the craft tequilas that are not available in the US. You are most likely drinking one of the mass-produced tequilas. Those are very low in quality. Spend the same money on your tequila, but get better tequila in Mexico. Every time I go to Tijuana, I come back with a bottle of craft tequila. Seriously, it does make a difference.

      There you have it folks: reduce your salt intake by drinking better tequila. Ole!

      June 26, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
  4. whsmhrth

    Shouldn't the headline be more like:

    "9 out of 10 Americans just eat too much"?

    And I love salt – not sugar, not choclolate, not sweets – but SALT! YUM!

    June 26, 2010 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jake

    Let's not nitpick.
    9 in 10 Americans eat too much of everything.

    June 26, 2010 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Stan

    Isn't it amazing that with all the terrible things we're all doing, the eating of "too much" salt, the "epidemic" of obesity, the horrifying immorality of trans fats, the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, etc., etc., ... that the average lfespan is longer than it has ever been in history, and the incidence of almost all degenerative diseases (when controlled for improved diagnostic techniques) continues to decrease? Why is it that at the age of 63, I'm younger and more energetic in almost all respects than my parents were at 50? And what would these busybodies do if they had to fulfill themselves by accomplishing something with their own lives instead of controlling others?

    June 26, 2010 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jacob

      I'm sorry but this attitude is so annoying.

      How exactly do you think we got to this point of better health in older age? People "nitpicking".

      Actually, these nitpicking "people" are often "scientists" who study in their respective fields all their lives; not for some obtuse power grab but because they enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and hope they can contribute positively to the world. Indeed, science is always changing; that's the point. The future will hold people living even longer and it's our progeny who will benefit. What could possibly be wrong with trying to create a better life for them; what could be more noble than creating a more stable life for us now: as a species?

      I just don't get people getting so worked up about things they never once cared about until some "nitpicking" "scientist" who only has like, a "PhD" tells them that they could have a longer, healthier life through conscientious behavior. Also, these "nanny-staters" frequently advocate positions that would be of other benefit to the average person (eating at home is just fiscally more reasonable, for instance.) I don't get the issue, unless you're so afraid that those MEDDLING SCIENTISTS are gonna get one over on you: at which point I think the problem lies with your view of the world and not the world as it is.

      June 27, 2010 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
  7. gman

    9/10 americans are either fat or anorexic. and all because they have been brainwashed into thinking that being greedy and wanting 2 cars is cool. so yeah, debt, obesity, retardation and now thanks to smartphones we have a generation of phone zombies that would prefer to txt you than see you in person. america is definitely not going to last. i mean look at 9-11. false flag operation, usa stolen from its people once and for good. and you all just let them. why, cause americans are pathetic, brainwashed people. give them a fat, salty cookie with some sugar on it, put it front of big tv playing a brainless show and watch them behave like expected. so emberassed to be an american, yet so glad i wasn't raised here. luckily where i am from we actually like being healthy, eating fresh and exercising. america, in all of its 75 year history has a lot to learn. but don't tell them that, they are so conceited and in debt that they wouldn't want to hear the truth. the truth hurts too much.

    June 26, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. gman

    on a more positive note, there IS a little bit of hope. I grew up eating pretty healthy, plenty of fruit, veggies, fresh meats and bread, none of it processed like in the USA. i also ran around playing soccer/tennis 4+ hours a day.
    when i came here for high school, the only things people ate were these huge, junky meals. people would eat pizza for lunch, then because of lack of things to do for kids in the US besides sports, would head to the mall to go to burger king. and then it was dinner time... what, you think they would something healthy? yeah right! and i left out the bacon and eggs for breakfast. completely unhealthy. thats why americans are so big. thats why girls here aren't thin. they are either fat or too skinny, or just plain muscular looking. eww! hardly ever "just right."
    you really have fast food and not enough exercise to blame, and of course laziness and stupidity.

    so these days I do things a bit differently. no fast food. ever. just keep driving. fool. now go to your grocery store and get all the fruit you can get. if you have the money get organic fruits and veggies, too. then get some unsalted, unroasted almonds too. not the cheap crap. if you must get some bread, get some bread. if you really are stupid, you should get the bread that can last on a shelf for months. that has got to be fresh, tasty and super healthy. no. its only healthy when you make a tennis ball out of the slice and play a game with it. get wheat bread or some kind of multi grain bread. bread isn't the most healthy thing, but you can add it to your diet if your exercise and dont eat too much of it.
    tip: When you stop adding salt to your foods, and stop eating ANY packaged crap (literally crap) you will soon realize that when eating something processed or salty etc. it is GROSS. salt is terrible for living cells!

    so now here's what you do: Breakfast – lots of fresh yummy fruit. its pure health, all the sugar your body NEEDS to function! dont eat any protein with it, cause it will force all the anti-oxidants to cling to it, rather than attacking free radicals. also, try to eat fruit on an empty stomach, because it digests much faster than other foods. you dont want it sitting on top of other food in your stomach that will take longer to digest, as the fruit will just sit there and ferment.
    just wait with protein for like an hour max. speaking of protein, a big handful of healthy almonds WILL provide all you need. there's no need for 40 grams of protein per meal (body builders.) think of all the work your digestive system would have to do to process all that. i say keep meals medium sized, never large. you ALWAYS regret it, am i right?
    now for lunch a nice organic salad, just add some almonds. as an athlete, i suggest that you DO get plenty of carbs in. thats what will give you that "energy" whenever you need it. glycogen is VERY important to have plenty of.
    I say, eat to repair. meaning, fill your glycogen tank up daily after exercise (takes 24-48 hours to replenish) and eat lots of fruit and veggies to combat free radicals etc and sleep plenty, exercise and get rid of stress as much as POSSIBLE!
    one last tip for shopping: just follow the outer wall... the isles are deadly, nothing healthy to be found there. stick with the outer wall of fruit veggies and unhealthy meats. thats right, i used to love meat now i only eat chicken and boars head ovengold turkey. but i dont eat meat every day, but most days probably. but VERY little! i am talking deli meat, nice and salty... one of these day i will ban deli meats too! oh and sorry if i offended anyone or everyone here. just a messenger 😉

    June 26, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kdsdy

      gman, sorry but no one's going to read what you wrote. Keep it brief man and get to the point.

      June 26, 2010 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    Don't listen to this garbage-sodium doesn't do jack to your system besides make you a bit thirsty.

    June 26, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sildba848

      You obviously do not have a medical degree.

      June 26, 2010 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
  10. sildba848

    You obviously do not hae a medical degree.

    June 26, 2010 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. KR

    well- I just came home from WORKING in a haymow- some of you might know what a haymow is- but for those that dont- think a 120 degree F steel box with little or no airflow and your wresting 60 lb lumps of vegitation- - I think I sweated out many , many miligrams of sodium- so I'm sitting down to a nice steak( grass fed free range) and broccoli w/ dip ( and probably a beer or two-
    get off your fat butts and do some real work and sodium/NATURAL fats wont bother so much

    June 26, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Suhurley

    As long as I continue to have low blood pressure (80/50 range) do I not need to worry about too much sodium? (I've always assumed that I don't.)

    June 26, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. JoseC

    The person writting this garbage should be fired on the spot. If they go to pubmed and do a quick search they will realize that sodium DOES NOTHING at all and you can easily dispense of it by just drinking more water. I know I said water what a shocker right? I did not say a magic pill or special diet but something we all need WATER!! As for the organic fans who have sworn by organic foods.... Well to you my friends keep wasting your hard earned money because yes it fact it is a waste. In many studies it has shown that organic foods hold no extra nutritional value and depending on storage can have less. I think we all read into this healthy none healthy garbage way to much if you are fat eat less!! Its quite that easy you do not need to starve yourself or go into a crazy diet.

    June 26, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Curt

    9 out of 10 Americans eat too much salt. 1 in 10 Americans eat nothing but bland and tastless food.

    June 26, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Daniel

    I stopped using salt years ago because it made everything taste like salt. Once you stop using salt, over time your taste buds become super sensitive and you can discern the true flavors of foods. Now I don't like to eat at most restaurants or buy processed foods because they all taste the same, salty. Fortunately I'm in a position to grow much of my own produce and have my own flock of chickens whose eggs are so flavorful that adding salt to them would be a crime. And what I don't produce I can get at some incredible farmers markets close by.

    As far as organic not being worth the money, buying organic is more than just being concerned about the pesticides and herbicides that come along with non organic foods. It is about what all those pesticides and herbicides are doing to the environment. All that poison which is spread on farms practicing conventional farming is doing great damage to wildlife, farm workers, and the water supply.

    Get your organic produce directly from the farmer at farmers markets. Get to know your farmer. Food is the building material used to create your body. You want the highest quality materials going into your mouth. Put cheap crap down your throat and you'll end up with a crappy body.

    June 26, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joanna Mickelson

    Canned and prepared food, frozen food producers and restaurants make it almost impossible for us to consume less salt than we should. Why frozen chicken breasts have to be "flavored" with "real chicken broth" is beyond me. It IS chicken to begin with and will produce it's own broth given the chance. As well, even "low sodium" soups, while finally showing up on the shelf, is enough for me. I purchase "no sodium" everything I can get my hands on, and believe me, there isn't much available. Fresh foods have enough sodium. My mother had a stroke at 45 and I have been raised in a practically sodium-free home. The addition of salt to a restaurant meal makes it totally unpalitable to me, as does any prepared foods, canned or frozen. I wouldn't have this problem if our food producers and restaurants didn't want to MASK the tastes of their foods, which are most often horrible.

    June 26, 2010 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Buz

    So a funny thing happened to me after retirement. I died. No really, I did. I was lucky. I coded on the ER exam table and just happened to be in the best cardiac care hospital in my state. I subsequently got an artificial aortic valve and a double bypass. Excessive sodium intake over the years had stiffened my cardiac arteries, calcified my aortic valve and along with a high cholesterol level, led to the blocked cardiac arteries.

    Let me tell you folks, you would be well advised to lower your sodium intake now. The consequences are too too awful.

    And the funny thing is I retired from the FDA. And had been a liaison to CDC on foodborn disease outbreaks. Pretty ironic.

    June 27, 2010 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Smith in Oregon

    Some table salts contain a measurable amount of radiation. Sadly very few American's have a personal radiation detector. Thankfully Russia whose citizens live in a higher background amount of radiation and a marginal amount of radioactive contamination in the waters and lakes have good personal radioactive detectors for its citizens which are commonly available for the American public to purchase.

    June 27, 2010 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Tony H uk

    Now I know why so many americans are obese.

    June 27, 2010 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ChollyGee

    Oh oh, here's the next manifestation of the nanny state: "NO MORE SALT FOR YOU, DUMMY!" Where I live it is far cheaper to buy pre-packaged sodium-laden foods than it is to even buy foods that require preparation, let alone "organic" foods. Eating organic is all but impossible for a family where both parents work and have 2-3 children. Organic is out of the question for all besides singles and couples with comfy incomes with no children. The best way to get through life: "alll things in moderation". It's not necessary to approach eating like it's a science course that must be passed.

    June 27, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jacob

      Life *is* a science course, and if you can't afford to feed your children in a way that reflects you care for them, stop reproducing.

      June 27, 2010 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
  21. gman

    haha jacob, well said. eating IS a science, too.... poor american children... who needs healthcare when your parents don't even care about health....

    June 27, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. gman

    if you buy your kids soda, cookies, chips and fried foods you should go to hell. you are killing your children,ruining their dna and are killing the future. god what an awful country... so far removed from anything natural. earth would be a much better place without greedy, fat, apathetic americans. americans would gladly wipe out nature, animals and even cultures for a fat, salty treat. i hope usa gets nuked by N korea, maybe then the planet will survive...

    June 27, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Marge

    None of this information is particuarly new, and some people outside the US also consume excess salt (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19351697). Salt is strongly linked to elevated blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart attacks...that's been established for several decades now. And the problem is processed food vs. whole food, not organic vs. conventional. There are plenty of processed foods high in sodium. Annie's classic mac and cheese has 520 mg/cup, Kraft mac and cheese has 560 mg/cup–in the grand scheme of things, that's not much difference.

    June 28, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Marge

    I meant to say "There are plenty of processed ORGANIC foods high in sodium." Some common sense should apply here: if you're hungry, a banana (conventional or organic) is probably a healthier snack than a bag of processed organic corn chips. And either one probably takes the same amount of time to prepare.

    June 28, 2010 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Salty

      organic food sucks

      July 7, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
  25. jnprckr

    title should have been, " Americans eat too much". for that statement no study is necessary. just walk around anywhere anytime and you'll agree. I am not saying anything new and neither is this article.

    June 29, 2010 at 03:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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