Salt, or sodium chloride, is essential for human health; we need about 350 milligrams of sodium daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's about the weight of half a raisin. Unfortunately, Americans consume on average about 3,500 milligrams of sodium daily.
Most of that sodium comes not from the saltshaker but rather from processed foods, in amounts unrealized by most consumers. A bag of potato chips might be an obvious culprit; one serving contains more than 250 milligrams of sodium. But so does a single slice of store-bought bread or a bowl of breakfast cereal. The bigger offenders are canned vegetables, canned soups and frozen dinners, each with around 1,000 milligrams of sodium.