Why Is High Sodium Bad for You?

High levels of sodium in the diet can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, reports the Centers for Disease Control. Most salt that Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods.

High sodium levels can cause fluid retention in some individuals, which increases blood pressure and can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure, according to Mayo Clinic. High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and increases pressure in the arteries.

Too much sodium is also linked to osteoporosis and stomach cancer, reports the American Heart Association. Most people consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium every day, more than twice the recommended 1,500 milligrams a day.

Some groups are more susceptible to the effects of high sodium consumption and should reduce their salt intake further, including African Americans and those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, recommends the CDC. American children eat much more sodium than recommended, and as of 2014, one in six children has high blood pressure, which could lead to heart disease and stroke later in life.

The sodium content of packaged foods is listed on the Nutrition Facts label. Manufacturers cannot label a product as "healthy" unless it has no more than 480 milligrams of sodium per single serving or 600 milligrams per meal, explains the AHA.