A major risk for most people as they age is eating too much sodium. It can contribute to high blood pressure; it can also lead to heart disease and other health problems. But cutting sodium from the diet is difficult, mainly because most people often don't know it's there. Nearly 90% of adults consume more salt than U.S. dietary guidelines recommend. More than three-quarters of the sodium people consume comes from processed and restaurant foods.

The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recently recommended that all adults restrict their intake of sodium to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day, equivalent to about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt, down from a current limit of 2,300 mgs for most people. The dietary guidelines, which are updated every five years, currently suggest a limit of 1,500 mgs for people with hypertension, individuals over 40 and African- Americans who are at greater risk for high blood pressure—which represents about 70% of all adults. The American Heart Association says it endorses a 1,500-mg sodium limit for all adults.

Consumers for years have focused on cutting back on fat and may not have noticed that foods they think are healthier may have lots of sodium. Today, adults consume more than 3,400 mgs of sodium on average, not including salt they use in cooking or sprinkle on food from a shaker, that’s more than twice the amount recommended for most people. Middle-aged men are eating on average about 54% more salt today than in the early 1970s; for women, consumption has jumped 67% in that same time.

The best way to reduce salt is to cut back on processed and restaurant foods, eat fresh produce, and reduce portion sizes.