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Use Heart To Season With Sense

High sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Global estimates suggest that most people consume too much salt—on average 9–12 grams per day.

Cardiovascular disease kills 18.6 million people per year and an estimated 2.5 million deaths can be prevented each year if global salt consumption is reduced to WHO recommended levels.

Unhealthy diets are a leading global public health risk, contributing to a rise in obesity and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. In the current food environment, dietary patterns have shifted, and people are consuming more foods high in saturated fats, trans fat, sugar or sodium. Consumers are exposed to powerful food marketing that influences their attitudes, preferences and consumption, and that is mostly dominated by ultra-processed foods. Today, unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disability globally.

The main source of sodium in our diet is salt. In low- and middle-income countries, most sodium consumption comes from salt added during cooking, at the table or through condiments (fish sauce or soy sauce). In many high-income countries, up to 75–80% of the salt consumed by the population comes from processed foods (such as ready-made meals, salty snacks, and processed meats), meals consumed frequently in large amounts (bread and processed cereal products) and meals prepared outside the home. Data from various countries indicates that most populations around the world are consuming much more sodium than the current World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, which is 2 grams of sodium per day, or the equivalent of 5 grams of salt per day. In fact, a first-of-its-kind WHO Global report on sodium intake reduction, published in March 2023, shows that the world is currently off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025.

Too much sodium in our diet can have devasting consequences for our health, including increasing our risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Decreasing dietary salt intake to the WHO recommended level could avert up to 2.5 million deaths due to heart disease and stroke each year.

Key Stats


People consume too much salt – on average, 9-12 grams of salt per day


Salt intake of fewer than 5 grams/day can reduce your cardiovascular risk

2.5 Milion

Reducing salt intake could save 2.5 million lives every year

Sodium is found naturally in a variety of foods, such as milk, meat and shellfish, and it is often found in high amounts in processed foods such as bread, crackers, processed meats and snack foods. Dietary salt, also known as sodium chloride, is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The amount of dietary salt consumed is an important determinant of blood pressure levels and cardiovascular risk.

Data from around the world suggest that most populations are consuming much more salt than recommended. According to WHO, people consume on average 9-12 grams of salt per day, or around twice the recommended maximum intake. To help reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, WHO recommends that adults consume less than 5 grams (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day. Meanwhile, the recommended maximum intake of salt for adults should be adjusted downward for children aged two to 15 years.

Increased sodium consumption is associated with increased blood pressure or hypertension, the number one risk factor for death globally, affecting more than 1 billion people worldwide. Undiscovered and untreated, hypertension significantly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular, brain, and kidney diseases. An estimated 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level.

Consumers should read the list of ingredients and food labels to help them find how much sodium is in a food. Currently, a wide variety of front-of-pack labelling systems have been implemented by governments and food manufacturers around the world. All these labels can be a handy tool to see the amount of sodium in packaged foods and beverages, and make informed dietary choices.

Reducing sodium intake can start with comparing labels at supermarkets and choosing products with less sodium. At the grocery store:

  • Read the list of ingredients on food labels to find how much sodium is in a food. Check the amount of sodium per serving, and the number of servings per container.
  • Choose packaged foods labelled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added” when available.
  • A diet high in processed foods is often high in sodium. Choose a heart-healthy diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, which can help prevent and/or lower your high blood pressure.

Potassium-enriched salt substitutes may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and mitigate the negative consequences of high sodium consumption. In September 2021, the Salt Substitute and Stroke Study allocated nearly 21,000 participants who had a history of stroke or were 60 years of age or older and had high blood pressure to potassium-enriched salt or regular salt. The study showed that the potassium-enriched salt reduced the risks of stroke by 14%.

Salt consumption at home can be reduced by not adding salt during the preparation of food, limiting the consumption of salty foods and choosing products with lower sodium content.

At the government level, policymakers can develop guidelines and recommendations to reduce the use of salt in the food industry, including:

  • Reducing the level of salt/sodium added to food (prepared or processed).
  • Increasing availability, affordability and consumption of fruit and vegetables, including in all public institutions (schools, other educational institutes, and the workplace).
  • Reducing saturated fatty acids in food and replacing them with unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Implementing public awareness programmes on diet and physical activity.


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