by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
What Is a Low-Sodium Diet?
This food plan limits the amount of salt (sodium) that you take in. It is limited to no more than 2,300 mg (milligrams) per day. This is equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt.
Sodium is a mineral found in many foods. Most people take in much more than they need. High sodium levels can increase blood pressure in some people. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke.
What Foods Are Highest in Sodium?
Sodium comes from more than just table salt. It may be sprinkled over a meal or added during cooking. However, most sodium comes from high sodium foods such as:
Some simple swaps may help keep you at your daily sodium goal. Choose whole foods when possible. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Read package labels to see sodium levels. You may be surprised at where sodium can hide.
Food Choices on a Low-Sodium Diet
There is a wide selection of safe foods in a low-sodium diet.
Grains that tend to be low in sodium include:
Be aware of high sodium levels in:
Vegetables and Fruit
All fresh vegetables are good choices. You can also look for:
Sodium levels are higher in:
Fruit are not naturally salty. Fresh, frozen, and canned fruit and fruit juices are low sodium choices.
Lower sodium dairy choices include:
Be aware of higher sodium in:
Meats and Beans
Preparation of meats and nuts can often add a lot of sodium. Choose:
Limit or stay away from:
Fats and Oils
Be aware of dressings or flavored oils. They often have high sodium levels.
Snacks, Sweets, and Condiments
Limit or avoid:
Sodium found in most drinks is pretty low. It is always a good idea to check nutrition label of flavored drinks, even water mixes.
American Heart Association
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Guidelines for a low sodium diet. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines_for_a_low_sodium_diet. Accessed June 17, 2020.
Patient education: dietary and fluid compliance for patients on hemodialysis. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed June 17, 2020.
Last reviewed June 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 1/8/2020
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