Physicians recommend limiting your daily salt intake to below 2,300 milligrams -- that's about 1 teaspoon of salt a day.
Most Americans consume about twice that amount -- 2 teaspoons a day. According to the American Medical Association, halving Americans' salt intake could save 150,000 lives every year.
Salt can be hard to avoid, even if you never pick up a salt shaker during your day. Experts say that three-fourths of the sodium we eat comes from packaged foods like pretzels or potato chips, not table salt.
The most effective way to cut back on sodium is to avoid foods with huge amounts of hidden salt.
They may be convenient but cans are a key culprit when it comes to your salt intake. You should try to eliminate the following prepared foods:
Soups, vegetables, chilies and pastas in cans or soup-powder mixes
Processed meats, shellfish and other seafood
Frozen dinners like pot pies
Seasoning mixes (taco mixes, gravies and other sauces)
Pancake, muffin and other bread mixes
Salted butter or margarine
Dutch-processed cocoa and instant cocoa mixes
Instant noodles, rice and potatoes
Even foods that sound healthy may be loaded with sodium. Check the labels on these "health foods" before you buy.
Soy protein foods products like marinated tofu or miso.
Processed cheeses including American, blue, Roquefort, Parmesan cheese, feta and cottage cheeses.
Milk-based drinks including buttermilk
Premade Asian foods made with teriyaki or soy sauce (unless you can control the sauce content)
Cold cereals containing 200 milligram or more of sodium
Even Sweets Have Salt
Even the sweetest of cakes, pies, cookies and pastries can contain a hefty dose of salt sometimes. Remember to check your labels.
For more information on how to control your salt content, what you should be looking for on your labels and some low-salt recipes, click on the American Heart Association Web site.