Are You One of the 90 Percent?

Although salt is a naturally occurring substance, and your body needs some sodium, too much salt can be detrimental to your health, often contributing to an increase in blood pressure.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 90 percent of people consume more salt than they should on a daily basis. Ninety percent. That’s a huge number.

How much is too much? Well, it depends on who you ask.

The American Heart Association sets a maximum daily value for all adults at 1,500 mg, while the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has a range between 1,500 and 2,300 depending on your age, ethnicity, and medical conditions. The CDC study found that most adults eat 3,300 mg of sodium in their foods, not counting any salt they add to food from a salt shaker sitting at the kitchen or restaurant table.

Where Is It?

Salt is abundant in most processed foods. Here are a few numbers to give you a perspective:

Canned chicken soup, chunky: 867 mg in 1 cup (which is less than half the can)

Lunch meat: 429 mg in 3 thin slices

Fast food biscuit with egg: 891 mg per biscuit

Little Caesar’s Cheese Pizza: 440 mg in two slices

Bagel, small 3″ size: 407 mg per bagel.

Pretzels, 1 oz.: 486 mg

Baking powder: 488 mg per teaspoon

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

How to Avoid Overdoing It

Although even vegetables have sodium, with celery being one of the higher sodium vegetables (51 mg per 1 large stalk), eating mainly whole foods like I talked about in my Attune post (Please visit if you missed it!) on Wednesday gives you a huge leg up on making sure your sodium intake stays within a healthy level. (If you missed the post – please take a look!)

One tip I have, which some of you undoubtedly do, is to remove the salt shaker from your own kitchen table, and train your palette to appreciate vegetables, main dishes, and side dishes that have no added salt. Even in our family, where I cook fairly healthy dishes, I heard some complaints from the older crowd about the lack of salt. Now, if they go out to eat they are amazed how salty everything tastes. Too much salt seems to dull our taste buds, making it difficult to fully appreciate the flavors of foods.

How are you doing? Are you one of the 90 percent? Diane


23 thoughts on “Are You One of the 90 Percent?

  1. Susan says:

    I don’t cook with regular salt anymore I use a salt subsitute when a recipe calls for it. Recently, I ve started cooking more things from scratch trying to eat even cleaner than before. I don’t like the taste of really salty foods any more now if I could just convince my husband to give it up.

  2. E. Jane says:

    I rarely put extra salt on my food. Many years ago during one of my pregnancies, I was retaining fluid, so I quit using the salt shaker at the table, and salt never tasted good to me again. However, there is so much in the food that we eat, particularly in restaurants, that I need to be mindful of that, as well. Very good post!

  3. Marie@feedingfive says:

    I don’t worry about salt because I don’t eat much packaged food. Even when I sit down to dinner I never put the salt shaker on the table. I have no trouble eating chicken and veggies without salt. I think I am just used to it.

  4. Jack Sh*t says:

    I’d say I’m in the 10%, but if I ever feel like my sodium levels are too low, I go eat some of my dad Horace’s cooking. That man is heavy-handed with the salt shaker.

  5. Jen says:

    It is totally important to the function of our brain I found out. My father had a hemoraphic stroke two years ago and during his recovery they totally limited his liquids (at first he could only have 250 ccs of liquid per day (!) so his body would not lose the sodium plus he had to take these massive sodium pills. Eventually, it went up to 750 ccs.

    It confused him (never mind the injury to his head) but he had always heard sodium was bad bad bad. In recovery from brain injuries, it is necessary. I did not know that.

  6. Janis says:

    I didn’t realize until a few years back that I didn’t have a salt shaker. I have salt, and I use it when I bake, but I don’t have a salt shaker. Now, pepper? Sore, lots of kinds of pepper. πŸ™‚ Like a lot of people are toward salt and sugar, I can be toward heat in my food. I’m just lucky that my personal favorite taste doesn’t come with a lot of calories attached. Excessive sweetness comes with lots of problems, but you can knock your tonsils clear across the room with a zillionth of a habanero.

    Now that I think about it, I don’t have a sugar bowl either. I use packets. They’re neater, and I can get my mug of coffee precisely how I want it. Giant mug, two packets, done.

  7. Lisa says:

    Salt was never my thing–sugar was. But I know that my sodium intake was high when my food was coming from frozen meals. They are so packed with sodium! Now I eat leftovers for lunch instead of frozen meals.

  8. julie says:

    I do use too much salt, though I don’t eat too many processed foods, I use salt and soy sauce and fish sauce and miso, etc., quite liberally. My blood pressure is absurdly low, and I don’t fall into the category of people who are sensitive to hypertension and salt use, so I don’t worry about it. It seems to be controversial if it’s really as bad for everyone as it’s made out to be, and things taste quite awful with no salt at all (in my opinion).

  9. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    I am not a salt user – I use the non salt seasonings which taste great for me! People do not realize how much sodium is in the foods they eat – read labels for sure OR even better, eat whole foods! πŸ™‚

    I tweeted about a news story saying people get most of their sodium form bread, not because it has the most in it BUT that they eat more bread then other foods – very interesting!

    • Dr. J says:

      A few years ago I had a friend visiting me from Germany. He was quite adept in the kitchen and offered to bake some bread. I asked him if he could make it without salt. His answer, “With no salt it would be dog-food!” lol!

  10. Amanda says:

    I’m tracking my sodium now and it just brings out how much I need to make sure I do as much food-prep at home as possible! Even pre-made hummus and salsa are high in sodium, and those are two of my favorite go-to foods when I don’t have as much time as I’d like.

    My poor husband, though. The man salts potato chips. It’s making me crazy.

  11. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    I don’t know know if I’m part of the 90% of not, but I do know that when I do purchase processed foods, I read labels and try to choose products with low or no salt added. And I try and avoid processed foods in general…that said, I do keep the salt shaker on the table because I tend not to cook with salt and tend to use foods that don’t have added salt precisely because I’d rather add a tiny bit from the salt shaker if needed! I also liberally use pepper and other herbs and spices πŸ™‚

  12. Dr. J says:

    I probably am. Once I broke my addiction to salt, it started to have a bitter taste. That usually alerts me if what I may try having is too salty.

  13. Tammy says:

    For sure, I am in the 90% and my blood pressure is high as a result. I recently start using MyFitnessPal to track my food intake and it is amazing to see the sodium levels. I’ve been trying to decrease my salt intake and so far having luck at the table. Now I need to work on the food before it hits the table.

  14. LovesCatsinCA says:

    I am probably in the 90% as I cook Japanese a lot as that’s my ancestry…and I definitely consume more than the 3,300 mg that is typical for Americans, let alone the “recommendations”. On the other hand, 14 GRAMS (that is 14,000 mg) is the typical sodium intake in Japan. I’d guess that I’m in the 4,000 to 5,000 mg range.

    I don’t think I’m salt sensitive for blood pressure. I AM, however, weight sensitive for blood pressure. I had hypertension when I was overweight and it’s normal now, and went down almost directly proportionally to my weight. This actually makes sense to me as my blood pressure is now slightly lower than it was when I was 20 years old–and I weigh slightly less less than when I was 20 too.

    I’m wondering if the things they attribute to eating too much salt are really attributable to eating a lot of fast food and processed foods… wouldn’t that make one heavier, and wouldn’t that mean one eats less fresh fruits and vegetables.

  15. Tish says:

    So true. I recently discovered a brand of chicken broth that had 1/7th the sodium of my previous favorite. Score. Eating less processed food really helps.

  16. Taryl says:

    I eat real salt to taste in all my cooking. There is a lot of conflicting and frankly weak information linking salt intake with causation in health problems, as opposed to just correlation with heredity and other dietary factors being taken into account. And fortunately, with few exceptions (highly salty foods liked brined/cured meats) I don’t have any health issue related to sodium intake nor do I respond badly to it. But since I make all our food from scratch except the occasional frozen hot dog or pizza once a week, I’m not concerned about my family’s overall salt intake and I know mine is fairly low compared to normal. But prepackaged food hides TONS if it, you’re right about that! It preserves and makes palatable what otherwise is, as another user put it, dog food. And I have nothing but support for people getting away from convenience foods and into more homemade preparations in as many things as possible

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t put extra salt on any of my food; however, I was wondering about sea salt. Is it really any healthier than regular table salt? I noticed some almonds that were advertised with sea salt.

  18. Lyn says:

    I do salt some of my food, but I use pink Himalayan salt. It has minerals that are beneficial, unlike standard table salt. I do think the type of salt we use matters.

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