Patient Fact Sheet on Salt Reduction

Lowering your salt intake = lowering your blood pressure

Nearly all people in the Americas eat far too much salt. Many adults and often children are eating over 2 times the amount considered safe for health. Limiting your use of table salt and eating less pre prepared foods high in salt can help keep you healthier. If you are over the age of 45, of African descent or have diabetes, hypertension, kidney or heart disease, your health is more at risk from high dietary salt than other people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends dietary salt intake of less than 5 grams per day for healthy adults, equivalent to 2000 milligrams of sodium, or just less than one teaspoon of salt.

High blood pressure or "hypertension" is a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease and is the leading risk for death in the world. In the Americas, depending on the country, between one-fifth and one-third of adults have hypertension and no mater where they live, over 90% of people living to age 80 can expect to develop hypertension. People in Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the highest rates of hypertension in the world.

Up to one-third of people who have high blood pressure have it because they eat too much salt. High salt diets have also been linked to stomach cancer, worsening of asthma, thinning and weakening of our bones, kidney stones and to obesity because salty foods cause thirst that we often quench with high-calorie soft drinks.

If you cut your salt intake to less than 5 grams per day, you can keep your blood pressure from going up and as you get older, this can help you to avoid hypertension. A low-salt diet could prevent up to 1 in 4 heart attacks and/or strokes.