Reducing sodium intake to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular diseases in adults
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.5 million people died from CVDs in 2012, representing 31% of all deaths worldwide. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk for CVDs, especially heart attack and stroke.
Evidence shows that reducing sodium intake significantly reduces blood pressure in adults. Sodium is found not only in table salt, but also naturally in a variety of foods, including milk, cream, eggs, meat and shellfish. It is also found in much high amounts in processed foods, such as breads, crackers, processed meats like bacon and snack foods such as pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn, as well as in condiments such as soy sauce, fish source, and bouillon or stock cubes.
WHO recommends a reduction in sodium intake to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease in adults.
WHO recommends a reduction to <2 g/day sodium (5 g/day salt) in adults.
These recommendations complement the WHO guideline on potassium consumption and should not be interpreted to replace or supersede that guideline. Public health interventions should aim to reduce sodium intake and simultaneously increase potassium intake through foods. Additional information can be found in the guidance summary, and in the guideline under 'WHO documents' below.
Other guidance documents
Prevention of cardiovascular disease: Guideline for assessment and management of cardiovascular risk
Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: Report of the joint WHO/FAO expert consultation, WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916 (TRS 916)
Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
- Effect of reduced sodium intake on blood pressure, renal function, blood lipids and other potential adverse effects
- Effect of reduced sodium intake on cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke
Effect of lower sodium intake on health: systematic review and meta-analyses
Related Cochrane reviews
- Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure
- Effects of low sodium diet versus high sodium diet on blood pressure, renin, aldosterone, catecholamines, cholesterol, and triglyceride
- Advice to reduce dietary salt for prevention of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced dietary salt for the prevention of cardiovascular disease
Other related systematic reviews
Lifestyle interventions to reduce raised blood pressure: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials
Salt intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of prospective studies