Salt vs. Sodium – What’s The Difference?


If you think salt and sodium are the same thing, you’re not alone. But you’re also not necessarily correct. This common misconception confuses a lot of people, but the difference can greatly affect the quality of your diet.

Sodium vs. Salt

Here’s a clear way to distinguish between the sodium and salt, as we commonly know it.

  • Sodium is what’s found in food – especially in processed food containing preservatives.
  • Salt is what we add to our food.

Ideally, we want foods that aren’t processed, because the more time that it’s handled, the more sodium that gets added along the way.

Salt is a chemical compound made up of sodium and chloride. And in actuality, it’s the sodium that’s really detrimental to your health. (Consequently, it’s also the chloride that gives food that “salty” taste.)

How Much Sodium is Too Much?

The average American diet requires no more than around 2300mg of sodium per day, and for those with high blood pressure or health conditions, even less than that. But the average amount of sodium we actually consume is closer to 3400mg a day. To put that into context, a half-teaspoon of salt is equivalent to 500mg of sodium.

Tips to Cut Down on Sodium

So what steps can you take to minimize your sodium intake? First and foremost, look at labels. If the sodium count seems high, look for a lower-sodium option or make a practical substitution. Many foods are available today for those with special dietary needs, but you may need be consult your local grocer.

Still, the easiest way to cut sodium is to eat more home cooked meals. Food that you prepare yourself allows you to control how much sodium – and salt – will make it onto your plate. And that’s an outcome that’s much easier to swallow.

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Categories: EatWell