Americans have had a long love affair with salt, but it hasn’t been a very healthy relationship. Research shows that too much sodium in the diet can increase risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other major health problems.

A new campaign launched Monday by the American Heart Association – “I love you salt, but you’re breaking my heart” – aims to educate people about the dangers of excess sodium and how to reduce what they consume.

The campaign includes a new website, with an online pledge to reduce sodium, along with a new video, Don’t Let Salt Sneak Up on You to show how sodium is sneaking into our foods.

The site also features a blog, sodium quiz and informational graphics, links to lower-sodium recipes and educational articles.

Limiting salt in the bigger picture — the U.S. food supply — is an important goal of the campaign. That’s because 75 percent of Americans’ sodium consumption is from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods — not the salt shaker.

“It’s challenging for Americans to stick to sodium intake recommendations because most of the sodium we eat in this country is added to our food before we buy it,” said American Heart Association President Elliott Antman, M.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician in the Cardiovascular Division of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “In order to really make a difference in the health of all Americans, we must reduce sodium in the food supply through the support of food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.”

Reducing current sodium intake by 1,200 milligrams a day has been estimated to prevent between 44,000 and 92,000 deaths per year and save between $10 billion and $24 billion annually in healthcare costs.

For more information: