Sodium and chloride in a teaspoon of salt and how we easily get twice as much

December 19, 2007

One level U.S. teaspoonful of granulated evaporated salt contains approximately 6,200 mg sodium chloride, or approximately 2,400 mg sodium.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, roughly the amount in a teaspoon of salt. The target is lower — 1,500 milligrams — for people at higher risk for high blood pressure, including those over 50 and African Americans.

Americans typically consume about 4,000 milligrams of sodium daily.

About 11 percent comes from adding salt or other sodium-containing condiments to foods while cooking or eating. But the majority of the sodium — 77 percent — comes from eating prepared or processed foods that contain the mineral. So even though you may limit the amount of salt you add to food, the food itself may already be high in sodium.

Here’s an example of a fairly average, fairly healthy healthy menu, and how the sodium adds up:

Food/Amount of sodium

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs, 2 large 342 mg
Bacon, 1 slice 192 mg
Whole-wheat bread, 1 slice 148 mg
Butter, 2 teaspoons 54 mg
Total sodium for meal 736 mg

Lunch
Whole-wheat bread, 2 slices 296 mg
Ham, luncheon meat, 1 slice 350 mg
Mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon 105 mg
Dill pickle, 1 spear 385 mg
Pretzels, 1 ounce 486 mg
Orange, 1 large 0 mg
Total sodium for meal 1,622 mg

Dinner
Spaghetti noodles, 1 cup 179 mg
Spaghetti sauce, 1/2 cup 601 mg
Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon 76 mg
Green beans, canned, 1/2 cup 177 mg
Garlic bread, 1 slice 200 mg
Total sodium for meal 1,233 mg

Total sodium for the day 3,591 mg

Source: Department of Agriculture, Nutrient Data Laboratory, 2005

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