e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

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 17.6 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 32% 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 sauce, and bouillon or stock cubes.

WHO recommendations

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.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

29 September 2017 10:34 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global NCD targets

Target 4: A 30% relative reduction in mean population intake of salt/sodium

Target 6: A 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure or contain the prevalence of raised blood pressure, according to national circumstances