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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Too Much Salt

That added salt in your meals can have profound effects on your health from head to toe.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Whether you're sprinkling some on your salad or adding a few pinches to your homemade pasta sauce, adding salt to food is a regular part of many people's culinary routines. However, while the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, most people in the U.S. are getting significantly more than that on a daily basis.

According to a 2018 study published in JAMA, the average U.S. adult consumes an estimated 3,608 milligrams of sodium per day—and that high level of dietary salt can have serious consequences. Read on to discover the effects eating too much salt can have on your health. And for more simple ways to improve your eating habits, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.


You may develop kidney issues.

Woman with pain in kidneys at home on couch

If you want to keep your kidneys healthy in the long run, there's no time like the present to start scaling back your salt intake. According to a 2018 study conducted in Japan, high dietary salt consumption was associated with a 29% increased risk of developing impaired kidney function among the 12,126 adults studied.

What's more, a 2018 observational study published in the journal Kidney International found that, among individuals with hypertension, high sodium intake increased study subjects' risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

If you want to keep those vital organs healthier, avoid these Popular Diets That May Cause Damage to Your Kidneys, According to Science.


You may have persistent headaches.

Mature man with bad headache at home

Fending off those painful headaches may be easier than you think: just start by reducing the amount of salt you eat.

A 2014 study published in BMJ Open found that, among a group of 390 study subjects, those who consumed the most sodium reported having the most headaches, while those who adopted a low-sodium diet significantly reduced their headache risk.

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You may gain weight.

Feet standing on a scale.

If you're eager to shed a few pounds, reducing your sodium intake may be a good place to start.

A 2015 study published in the journal Obesity found that sodium intake was associated with increased weight and that every 1,000 milligrams increase per day in sodium was associated with a 6-pound increase in weight.


You may feel bloated.


Are your skinny jeans feeling a bit too snug lately? You might want to reconsider the amount of sodium you're consuming.

"The sodium in salt pulls water with it. If there is extra salt in the digestive tract, this will pull water in the digestive tract, making you feel bloated," says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, of My Crohn's and Colitis Team.


Your blood pressure may rise.

Doctor taking blood pressure of female patient at office

If you're looking to get your blood pressure into a healthier range, lowering your sodium intake is a great place to start.

"Water follows salt, so when you consume a lot of salt in one sitting, you retain a lot of water. This causes your blood pressure to go up, which damages your arteries over time," says Megan Byrd, RD from The Oregon Dietitian, who notes that this can lead to hypertension, heart disease, and even heart failure in the long term.

For more on how to decrease your numbers, here are the 20 Healthiest Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah
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