The American Heart Association recommends listing sodium intake throughout the day by keeping a sodium tracker, a habit that can help prevent high blood pressure and help people understand how much sodium is in their food. The daily recommended sodium intake for an otherwise healthy individual is 1,500 milligrams, while most prepackaged and processed foods have twice that amount, notes the AHA. One fast-food hamburger can have 100 percent of the daily recommended sodium intake.
Those who are on a low-sodium diet should also track their sodium intake to make sure they receive the needed amount, recommends the Cleveland Clinic. Tips for transitioning into a low-sodium diet include eliminating the salt shaker from the dinner table; avoiding foods known to have high amounts of salt, such as broth mixes and meat tenderizers; using fresh ingredients versus processed; and avoiding convenience foods, such as canned soups and frozen dinners.
While salt is an essential nutrient already present in the body, most foods in the Western diet have more than the necessary amount, and the average American consumes twice the recommended amount of salt, warns the AHA. Because salt is commonly present in most foods, it adds up quickly, making a tracking sodium intake essential to maintaining a healthy heart. High levels of sodium make the heart work twice as hard to pump due to fluid retention, states GroupHealth. This process is what leads to high blood pressure.