The Salty Truth - ONIE Project

The Salty Truth

Which is it salt or sodium?

Salt contains sodium. A teaspoon of salt contains about 2300mg of sodium. Sodium, when consumed in excess, can be harmful to our health. We can reduce our sodium intake by limiting the salt in our diet. Choose less salt.  

How much sodium?

The American Heart Association recommends that most Americans consume 2300mg or less of sodium each day1. On average, we consume 3400mg of sodium each day, which is 150% more than the recommended amount2. Make a healthy family choice, eat less salt. Read more to get the scoop about salt from the American Heart Association, click HERE.

Why do we need salt?

Salt is essential to the human body and helps make many functions possible. Salt helps our bodies to maintain fluid balance so we don’t get too much water in our system. It also aids in the contraction of muscles and the sending of messages along the nervous system. Salt also helps with the absorption of nutrients during digestion, including potassium. Although salt is needed by our body is it important to have 2300 mg or less of sodium each day.

Too much salt matters to your health

A review of the best evidence says yes, too much salt matters to your health. Too much salt can increase blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease3. There are other health risks as well. Too much salt increases the risk of stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer3. Moreover, eating too much salt also makes us thirsty and can lead us to crave sugary beverages that add unnecessary calories, which is associated with weight gain3. Make a healthy family choice, eat less salt.

Small changes add up

Most of us consume more sodium than we need each day. Does it seem too hard to cut salt from your diet? No worries. Small changes add up over the time. Research shows that reducing salt by about ¼ teaspoon each day, or about 400mg of sodium, leads to important changes in your health4. Choosing a simple change in our diet, like eating more frozen veggies, is a healthy family choice.

These experts, always saying something different

Nutrition can be so confusing. Recommendations are made and then questions are raised challenging these recommendations. It happens all the time. Recently a few studies came out claiming consuming too much salt was not harmful to health, and that a low-sodium diet could lead to heart disease. ONIE’s staff researcher, Dr. Kerby, dug into the evidence to find out the truth. The best studies found consuming too much sodium is harmful to your health5,6

It matters to our kid’s health

Nine of 10 kids, 6 to 18 years old, consume too much salt each day7. This means your children are probably consuming too much salt as well. Too much salt is affecting our kid’s health. Children who have a lot of salt in their diet are twice as likely to have elevated blood pressures levels8. Make a healthy family choice, eat less salt.

Myth: Sea salt is not a low-sodium alternative

Sea salt and table salt both contain the same amount of sodium9. A teaspoon of table salt contains about 2300mg of sodium and so does a teaspoon of sea salt. Likewise, a teaspoon of kosher salt contains 2300mg of sodium9.

Drain and rinse

One effective way to reduce the sodium in canned food is to drain and rinse. Before heating, simply drain and then rinse the beans, vegetables, or other canned food.  Draining and rinsing cuts the sodium by up to 40%10.  Take a moment, pause, drain, and rinse. Choose less salt. 

The "Salty Six"

There are six commons foods that add much of the excess sodium to your diet.  You might not guess them because many do not taste salty. The Salty Six include breads and roll, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches11ONIE’s tip: Cut back on these salty six, and choose more frozen veggies. These veggies are easy to add to any dish and the work has already been done for you, no washing, peeling, chopping, or slicing. Read more about the salty six by American Heart Association, click HERE.

Match 1 for 1

The ONIE Project has made keeping your salt “in check” easy. Just match your sodium and calories and choose foods that have no more than 1mg of sodium for 1 calorie. Everything you need to know is on the nutrition label and it only takes a second to make the decision. Follow the link for an easy to use tool, click HERE. 


  1. Lichtenstein, A. H., Appel, L. J., Brands, M., Carnethon, M., Daniels, S., Franch, H. A., . . . Wylie-Rosett, J. (2006). Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006 - A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, Circulation, 114(1), 82-+. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.106.176158
  2. Cogswell ME, Zhang Z, Carriquiry AL, et al. Sodium and potassium intakes among US adults: NHANES 2003–2008. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;96(3):647-657. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.034413
  3. He, F. J., & MacGregor, G. A. (2009). A comprehensive review on salt and health and current experience of worldwide salt reduction programmes. Journal of Human Hypertension, 23(6), 363-384. doi:10.1038/jhh.2008.144
  4. Bibbins-Domingo, K., Chertow, G. M., Coxson, P. G., Moran, A., Lightwood, J. M., Pletcher, M. J., & Goldman, L. (2010). Projected effect of dietary salt reductions on future cardiovascular disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(7), 590-599. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0907355
  5. Cobb, L. K., Anderson, C. A. M., Elliott, P., Hu, F. B., Liu, K., Neaton, J. D., . . . Appel, L. J. (2014). Methodological issues in cohort studies that relate sodium intake to cardiovascular disease outcomes: A science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/cir.0000000000000015
  6. Aburto, N. J., Ziolkovska, A., Hooper, L., Elliott, P., Cappuccio, F. P., & Meerpohl, J. J. (2013). Effect of lower sodium intake on health: systematic review and meta-analyses. Bmj-British Medical Journal, 346, 20. doi:10.1136/bmj.f1326
  7. Center for Disease Control. (2014, September). Reducing sodium in children’s diets. CDC Vital Signs. Retrieved from
  8. Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Kuklina, E. V., Fang, J., Ayala, C., Hong, Y., . . . Merritt, R. (2012). Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure Among US Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3870
  9. American Heart Association. (n.d.) Sea salt vs table salt. Retrieved from
  10. Harvard School of Public Health & the Culinary Institute of America. (2010). Tasting success with cutting salt: Twenty-five science-based strategies and culinary insights. Retrieved from Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition Web site:
  11. Food categories contributing the most to sodium consumption – United States, 2005-2008. MMWR, 61(5), 92-98. Retrieved from`

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