Humans evolved on potassium-rich diets containing only small amounts of sodium. Nowadays, sodium intake considerably exceeds potassium intake. However, from the evolutionary point of view we are not accustomed to such high salt (sodium chloride) ingestion. The consequences of a high dietary salt intake are primarily elevated blood pressure with a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, but also a higher probability of developing kidney diseases and stomach cancer. High sodium consumption is favored by an extremely ‘salty' environment, where palatable salty food is frequently available promoting a dietary salt overload of the human body. To efficiently achieve a consistent reduction in dietary salt intake, sodium content of food should be reduced and eating behavior modified. This review covers both of these aspects, including the reasons why we are not ‘programmed' to cope with high salt loads, the clinical consequences of a high salt consumption and the possibilities of reducing dietary salt intake and getting rid of the ‘salty' environment.

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