Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

May 17, 2000 (New York) -- Put down the salt shaker and forget super-sizing the french fries. Cutting back on salt, say high blood pressure experts, can not only bring high blood pressure under control but it may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Results of a federally sponsored study, which involved more than 400 people aged 22 or older and looked at the effect of salt intake on blood pressure, suggests that most Americans are consuming more than twice as much salt as they should, and that's a problem, the experts say.

Salt, according to a team led by a Harvard researcher, appears to be a major factor in blood pressure. Frank Sacks, MD, who presented the study results at a press conference sponsored by the American Society of Hypertension, says that reducing daily salt intake to just 1,500 mg, instead of the 3,300 mg consumed by most Americans, can reduce blood pressure without the use of blood pressure medications. He says that cutting back on salt had the same positive results regardless of age, sex, or race.

And for those who want to maximize the health impact of salt reduction, the best approach is to combine it with a diet that emphasizes whole fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods, he says. In the study, persons with high blood pressure found that the combination of healthy diet and salt restriction significantly lowered their blood pressure, Sacks says.

Systolic pressure -- the first or higher number when blood pressure readings are given -- came down more than 11 points, and diastolic -- the second number -- came down an average of seven points. Even persons who didn't have high blood pressure lowered their blood pressure by restricting salt, Sacks says. He also says that cutting back on salt can lower blood pressure even if one doesn't switch to the healthy diet he recommends.

Currently, the government recommends a daily salt, or sodium, intake of 2,400 mg. That is too high, say Sacks and fellow researchers William Vollmer, PhD, and Eva Obarzanek, PhD. And while the recommendation is high, reality is worse. Sacks tells WebMD that most Americans actually take in about 3,300 mg of salt a day.

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Healthy Recipe Finder