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Health Facts

Sodium and Potassium

Nearly all Americans eat too much salt (sodium). Most of the salt comes from eating processed foods (75%), or adding salt to food while cooking and using the salt shaker at meals (5% to 10%). On average, the more salt a person eats, the higher his or her blood pressure. Eating less salt is an important way to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which may in turn reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney damage. To reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, eat less processed food and use less salt while cooking and at the table.

Other lifestyle changes may prevent or delay getting high blood pressure and may help lower elevated blood pressure. These include eating more potassium-rich foods, losing excess weight, being more physically active, eating a healthy diet, and limiting alcoholic beverages, if you choose to drink them.

Did you know that sodium and potassium both impact blood pressure? A diet rich in potassium helps to counterbalance some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure.

Foods that are good sources of potassium are listed in the Food Sources of Potassium table on the next page.

You should get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. Some people should get less.

Here are some tips for eating less salt:

If you follow these tips for awhile, your taste for salt will decrease—you won't miss it.

When buying packaged food, use the Nutrition Facts label to check potassium content. Use the % DV to look for foods that are low in sodium and high in potassium—which counteracts some of sodium's effects on blood pressure. NOTE: Potassium is not always found on the label.

Considerations for specific population groups:
Some people should get no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day, and should meet the potassium recommendation through foods. These are:

Get enough potassium each day.
Potassium-containing food sources include leafy greens, such as spinach and collards; fruit from vines, such as grapes and blackberries; root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes; and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit. More specific examples are listed on the Food Sources of Potassium table on the next page. Adults should aim to consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium from food and beverages each day.

Ranges of sodium content for selected foods available in the retail market
Food Amount Range of Sodium Content (mg) % Daily Value (% DV)*for Sodium
Breads, all types 1 ounce 95 - 210 4% - 9%
Frozen pizza, plain cheese 4 ounces 450 - 1,200 19% - 50%
Frozen vegetables, all types 1/2 cup 2 - 160 0% - 7%
Salad dressing, regular fat, all types 2 Tablespoons 110 - 505 5% - 21%
Salsa 2 Tablespoons 150 - 240 6% - 10%
Soup (tomato), reconstituted 8 ounces 700 - 1,260 29% - 53%
Tomato juice 8 ounces (~1 cup) 340 - 1,040 14% - 43%
Potato chipsa 1 ounce (28.4 grams) 120 - 180 5% - 8%
Tortilla chipsa 1 ounce (28.4 grams) 105 - 160 4% - 7%
Pretzelsa 1 ounce (28.4 grams) 290 - 560 12% - 23%
* % Daily Values (DV) listed in this column are based on the food amounts listed in the table. The DV for sodium is 2,400 mg.
aAll snack foods are regular flavor, salted.
Source: Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17 and recent manufacturers' label data from retail market surveys. Serving sizes were standardized to be comparable among brands within a food. Pizza and bread slices vary in size and weight across brands.

Note: None of the examples provided were labeled low-sodium products.

Food Sources of Potassium
Food, Amount Potassium (milligrams) % Daily Value* Calories
Sweet potato, baked 1 potato (146 grams) 694 20% 131
Beet greens, cooked, 1/2 ccup 655 19% 19
Potato, baked, flesh, 1 potato (156 grams) 610 17% 145
White beans, canned, 1/2 cup 595 17% 153
Yogurt, plain, non-fat, 8-ounce container 579 17% 127
Clams, canned, 3 ounces 534 15% 126
Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 8-ounce container 531 15% 143
Prune juice, 3/4 cup 530 15% 136
Carrot juice, 3/4 cup 517 14% 71
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 490 14% 119
Soybeans, green, cooked, 1/2 cup 485 14% 127
Tuna, yellowfin, cooked, 3 ounces 484 14% 118
Lima beans, cooked, 1/2 cup 484 14% 104
Winter squash, cooked, 1/2 cup 448 13% 40
Soybeans, mature, cooked, 1/2 cup 443 13% 149
Rockfish, Pacific, cooked, 3 ounces 442 13% 103
Cod, Pacific, cooked, 3 ounces 439 13% 89
Banana, 1 medium 422 12% 105
Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup 419 12% 21
Tomato juice, 3/4 cup 417 12% 31
Tomato sauce, 1/2 cup 405 12% 39
Source: Nutrient values from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17. Foods are from ARS single nutrient reports, sorted in descending order by nutrient content in terms of common household measures. Food items and weights in the single nutrient reports are adapted from those in 2002 revision of USDA Home and Garden Bulletin No. 72, Nutritive Value of Foods. Mixed dishes and multiple preparations of the same food item have been omitted from this table.

* % Daily Values (DV) listed in this column are based on the food amounts listed in the table and FDA's Daily Value for potassium (3,500 mg).