Guadagnare Salute

Epidemiologia e prevenzione delle malattie cerebro e cardiovascolari


Prevention and lifestyle

Salt and sodium in food

Table salt contains sodium, which helps to increase blood pressure, one of the the main cause of heart attacks and strokes. (see the salt risk page)


Under normal conditions, our body needs small amounts of sodium (393.4 mg), which corresponds to 1 gram of table salt (sodium chloride). Through diet, however, an Italian person intakes, on average, 10 grams of salt every day [1]; this amount derives from salt naturally contained in food and from that added to food. Reducing this amount can help to maintain blood pressure at optimal levels, thus decreasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.


How much is "too much"?

As recommended by the World Health Organization, less than 5 grams of table salt, corresponding to about 2 grams of sodium, should be consumed every day. [2] Just to give a practical measure, 5 grams of salt approximately corresponds to the amount contained in a teaspoon. (See the page where is the sodium?)


A little history

In the past, salt has been a precious element. The word "salary", introduced by the Romans, derives from the salt that was given as a payment for its importance in the preservation of food. In the Renaissance, following the introduction of a tax on salt in the Papal States, the population of Tuscany and Umbria began to produce bread ‘sciapo’ (without salt). This tradition still persists today and indeed, consuming Tuscan bread without salt can be very important to reduce the sodium intake in daily diet.


Read more

  1. Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione. Linee guida per una sana alimentazione italiana. (2003 edition). Available at (last access: 1/20/2010)
  2. Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Report of a joint WHO/FAO expert consultation. WHO Technical Report Series 916/2003. Disponibile su (last access: 1/20/2010)


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