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Reduce Sodium Intake in 2024

How to reduce salt in your diet.

Nashville, Ark. – Has your doctor told you to “watch” your salt intake? Are you making the commitment to reduce the amount of sodium you add to the foods you eat? According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. One change you can make is to reduce the amount of sodium consumed.

Salt plays an important role in everyone’s diet. It helps to maintain the body’s balance of fluids. It also serves as a preservative in many foods by helping to prevent spoilage and keeping certain foods safe to eat. Unfortunately, nearly all Americans consume more salt than they need daily.

Dietary guidelines suggest consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, which is about equivalent to a teaspoon of table salt. For some people, the recommendation is no more than 1,500 milligrams. This includes those people who are in the high-risk category – people with high blood pressure, African Americans, and those who are middle-age or older. Your doctor can make recommendations on how much sodium you can have daily.

So, what happens when we consume more than the 2,300 milligrams salt that we need? The bottom line is it can contribute to high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and can lead to heart disease, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.

People who have high blood pressure are encouraged to follow a low sodium diet, such as the DASH Diet. The DASH Diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, receives high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes, and its role in supporting heart health, it’s widely considered a balanced dietary approach for anyone desiring to lose weight, help control high blood pressure and improve overall health.

Nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and fiber are crucial to managing high blood pressure. With the DASH Diet, you don’t have to track each one. You just emphasize the foods you’ve always been told to eat (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy), while limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods, tropical oils, and sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. The diet also emphasizes replacing salt and sodium with herbs and spices.

Flavoring the foods you eat with pepper and other herbs and spices instead of reaching for the saltshaker reduces the amount of sodium you consume. However, there are additional things you can do to reduce sodium in the diet. Choose unsalted snacks. Look at the nutrition facts label to determine if a food is high in sodium. If the % DV of sodium is over 5%, it is considered to be high. If sodium is listed as one of the top three ingredients in the product, it is high in sodium.

Ask for low salt or no salt foods at restaurants. Prepare meals from scratch rather than using processed, pre-packaged foods. More than 70 percent of the sodium we consume is found in processed foods and restaurant meals.

Depending on your food choices, it doesn’t take much to consume more sodium than recommended. One slice of bread can contain anywhere from 80 to 230 mg of sodium, and a slice of frozen pizza can contain between 370 and 730 mg of sodium. Even some breakfast cereals contain 150 to 300 mg of sodium before milk is added. Sodium adds up quickly.

Use herbs and spices, such as garlic and pepper, or add a dash of lemon juice to flavor your food instead of sauces and prepackaged seasonings. Also limit adding salt while cooking, and taste food first before adding salt at the table.

If you would like more information on using herbs and spices to flavor foods, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse for upcoming programs. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week - All-Purpose Seasoning Blend

This All-Purpose Seasoning Blend is a great alternative to salt. Sprinkle on protein foods and vegetables before cooking. It is salt-free!

  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

  • 1 Tablespoon basil

  • 1 Tablespoon marjoram

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon thyme

  1.   Mix together in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container away from heat.
  3. Use 1 teaspoon per pound of protein food and one-half teaspoon for 2 cups of vegetables.


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.