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Studies have shown that limiting salt intake can lower your blood pressure, which reduces your risk of stroke, heart failure and other health problems.

Dr. Virgil Dawson, who practices family medicine at UCF Health, says that while our bodies need sodium to function properly, most people have about four times the recommended amount of sodium in their diet.

To keep your heart in tiptop shape, limit sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day. People with certain medical conditions should have even less.

The salt shaker is not the source of the problem. Most of the sodium we consume (about 80 percent) comes from processed and restaurant foods, which are high in sodium even though they might not taste salty.

Some foods that tend to be surprisingly high in sodium:

  1. Frozen meals
  2. Canned or pickled foods
  3. Snack foods
  4. Deli meat
  5. Cheese
  6. Condiments, sauces and dressings
  7. Breads
  8. Cereals
  9. Soda (including diet soda)


“Even when you think you are making healthy choices at a restaurant by ordering the salmon, for example, it is often loaded with salt,” says Dr. Dawson.  “In fact, most restaurant entrees pack around 1,500-2,200 mg of sodium. You can easily reach your daily limit with one meal!”

Your best bet at reducing your salt intake is to limit the amount of restaurant and processed foods you eat, in addition to reading food labels and choosing “low sodium” options.


Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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