You’ve probably heard that most Americans eat too much sodium. Your body needs a small amount of sodium to work properly, but too much sodium can be bad for your health. Diets higher in sodium are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease.
Despite what many people think, most dietary sodium (over 70%) comes from eating packaged and prepared foods—not from table salt added to food when cooking or eating. The food supply contains too much sodium and Americans who want to consume less sodium can have a difficult time doing so. That is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with the food industry to make reasonable reductions in sodium across a wide variety of foods. Even though sodium may already be in many packaged foods when you purchase them, you can lower your daily sodium intake by using the Nutrition Facts label.
Look at the Label!
Use the Nutrition Facts label as your tool to make informed decisions!
- Know the Daily Value. The Daily Values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed each day. The Daily Value for sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day.
- Use % Daily Value (%DV) as a tool. The %DV is the percentage of the Daily Value for each nutrient in a serving of the food and shows how much of a nutrient contributes to a total daily diet.Use %DV to determine if a serving of the food is high or low in sodium and to compare and choose foods to get less than 100% DV of sodium each day.As a general guide: 5% DV or less of sodium per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of sodium per serving is considered high.
- Pay attention to servings. The nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is usually based on one serving of the food. Check the serving size and the number of servings you eat or drink to determine how much sodium you are consuming.