Complete Guide to a Low Sodium Diet


Introduction

Throughout this low sodium guide you will learn everything there is to know about eating a low sodium diet. A low sodium diet doesn’t have to be boring and flavorless. Using the right ingredients and techniques can make all the difference in the world. Below you will find numerous tips and tricks to eating on a low sodium diet. Learn what foods are high in sodium, what foods are low in sodium, how to cook on a low sodium diet and much more. Make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter to stay in the loop with new low sodium diet tips and guides:

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What is Sodium?

Most people think of salt when they hear sodium, but salt is actually a mineral compound called sodium chloride. The food we eat could contain sodium chloride (salt) or could contain sodium in other forms. Along with potassium and chloride, sodium is one of the body’s three major electrolytes that control the fluids that go in and out of the body’s tissues and cells.

How Much Sodium Should we Consume?

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern.

Did You Know?

1 tsp Salt = 2,300mg Sodium

Based on these guidelines, the vast majority of adults eat more sodium than they should—an average of more than 3,400 mg each day. Eating too much sodium puts Americans at risk for developing serious medical conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. [4]

How can I reduce sodium in my diet?

The easiest way to reduce sodium in your diet is to cut out processed foods. Believe it or not the majority of sodium in our diets comes from processed foods. Examples of processed foods could be: TV dinners, condiments, or a bag of chips. Even if a certain processed food item doesn’t taste salty at all, it can still be very high in sodium. If you have to buy certain processed foods, just be mindful of the nutrition labels before purchasing.

Quick Tips

  • When cooking, use alternatives to replace or reduce the amount of salt you use, such as garlic, citrus juice, salt-free seasonings, or spices.
  • Prepare rice, pasta, beans, and meats from their most basic forms (dry and fresh) when possible.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit sauces, mixes, and “instant” products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta.

How do I Dine Out on a Low Sodium Diet?

Eating at restaurants on a low sodium diet can be stressful. Whether it’s not knowing what’s processed and what’s fresh, or how much salt is being added by the chefs, there’s always going to be sodium hiding somewhere. Below is a list of tips you can use when dining out on a low sodium diet.

Quick Tips

  • Chain restaurants often put nutritional information online. Check ahead to find the lower sodium options.
  • Ask restaurants not to add salt to your meal, and use sauces and condiments only in small amounts.
  • Instead of the dressing that comes with the salad, ask for oil & vinegar.
  • Reduce your portion size—less food means less sodium. For example, ask the server to put half of your meal in a take-out container before it comes to your table, or split an entree with someone else.
  • Ask your server if nutrition information is available before you order, if so select a lower sodium meal.
  • Ask that no salt be added to your meal.
    Order vegetables with no salt added or fruit as a side item.
  • Split a meal with a friend or family member.
    Keep takeout and fast food to an occasional treat. [4]

Grocery Shopping on a Low Sodium Diet

Grocery shopping on a low sodium diet can actually be really fun and inexpensive if done correctly. Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping on a low sodium diet is to avoid processed foods as often as possible. Although it’s ok to buy processed foods that are low in sodium, sticking to whole organic food will yield the best results.

Quick Tips

  • Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with no salt or sauce added.
  • Choose packaged foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added” when available. Checkout low sodium labels to learn more about the different labels.
  • Read food labels and compare the amount of sodium in different products, then choose the options with the lowest amounts of sodium.
  • Check the amount of sodium per serving, and don’t forget to check the number of servings per container.
  • When possible, purchase fresh poultry, fish, pork, and lean meat, rather than cured, salted, smoked, and other processed meats.
  • For fresh items, check to see whether saline or salt solution has been added—if so, choose another brand.
  • Ask your grocer if they have a low sodium shopping list available.

Understanding the Different Sodium Product Labels

Understanding the label lingo that goes into buying canned or packaged products will help you reduce sodium from your diet. Below is a couple of terms for you to watch out for when you’re at the supermarket. Remember it’s very important to keep an eye on the labels when following a low sodium diet.


Lightly Salted: 50% less sodium was added to this food, compared to the same serving size of the original food.
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Very Low Sodium: 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.
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Sodium Free: Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
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Reduced sodium: a product contains at least 25% less sodium than the standard version.
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Low Sodium: 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.
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Unsalted: no sodium (salt) is added to the product during processing, but the product still contains sodium that naturally occurs in the product’s ingredients.
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How do I Season Food Without Salt?

When you begin cooking without salt, at first it may seem a little intimidating. Some people have become habitual salters, adding the mineral without tasting the food first, or worse yet, adding it simply because it is what they have always done.

Herbs and spices are perfect for boosting your food’s flavor and giving you a better experience on your low sodium diet. When you use fresh spices, this sensation is even better than if you would have used something from the grocery store, as these spices are usually not the freshest.

Quick Tips

  • Start using fresh lemon, lime, and orange zest.
  • Use whole when possible using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind up spices right before use.
  • Use fruit juices (lemon, lime, orange) and vinegars to elevate flavor in salads and more.
  • Purchase powdered spices in small amounts. When they sit on the shelf for years they lose their flavor.
  • Use no more than ¼ teaspoon of dried spice (¾ of fresh) per pound of meat.
  • Combine herbs with oil or butter, set for 30 minutes to bring out their flavor, then brush on foods while they cook, or brush meat with oil and sprinkle herbs one hour before cooking.
  • Crush dried herbs before adding to foods.

Click on the herbs & spices below:

Allspice

Taste & Aroma: Allspice has a pleasantly warm, fragrant aroma. The name reflects the pungent taste, which resembles a peppery compound of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg or mace.

Use with: Eggplant, most fruit, pumpkins and other squashes, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.

Combines well with: Chili, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, mace, mustard, pepper, rosemary and thyme.

Anise

Taste & Aroma: The aroma and taste of the seeds are sweet, licorice like, warm, and fruity, but Indian anise can have the same fragrant, sweet, licorice notes, with mild peppery undertones.

Use with: Apples, chestnuts, figs, fish and seafood, nuts, pumpkin and root vegetables.

Combines well with: Allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, garlic, nutmeg, pepper and star anise.

Basil

Taste & Aroma: Sweet basil has a complex sweet, spicy aroma with notes of clove and anise. The flavor is warming, peppery and clove-like with underlying mint and anise tones.

User with: Corn, cream cheese, eggplant, eggs, lemon, mozzarella, cheese, olives, pasta, peas, pizza, potatoes, rice, tomatoes, white beans and zucchini.

Combines well with: Capers, chives, cilantro, garlic, marjoram, oregano, mint, parsley, rosemary and
thyme.

Bay Leaf

Taste & Aroma: Bay has a sweet, balsamic aroma with notes of nutmeg and camphor and a cooling astringency. Fresh leaves are slightly bitter, but the bitterness fades if you keep them for a day or two. Fully dried leaves have a potent flavor and are best when dried only recently.

Use with: Beef, chestnuts, chicken, citrus fruits, fi sh, game, lamb, lentils, rice, tomatoes, white beans.

Combines well with: Allspice, garlic, juniper, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, savory and thyme.

Caraway Seed

Taste & Aroma: Caraway has a pungent aroma that, like the flavor, is warm and bittersweet, sharply spicy, with a note of dried orange peel and a slight but lingering hint of anise.

Use with: Good with apples, breads, cabbage, duck, goose, noodles, onions, pork, potatoes and other root vegetables, sauerkraut and tomatoes.

Cayenne

Taste & Aroma: The most common ground chili, cayenne is made from small, ripe chili peppers grown worldwide. The flavor is tart, slightly smoky and intensely pungent.

Use with: Chili powder, curry powders and pastes, harissa, jerk seasoning, Kim chi, moles, and sambals.

Combines well with: Most spices, bay, coriander, coconut milk, lemon and lime juice.

Cardamom

Taste & Aroma: The aroma of cardamom is strong but mellow, fruity, and penetrating. The taste is lemony and flowery, with a note of camphor or eucalyptus due to cineol in the essential oil. It is pungent and smoky, with a warm, bittersweet note, yet is also clean and fresh.

Use with: Apples, oranges, pears, legumes, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables.

Combines well with: Caraway, chili, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, pepper, saffron and yogurt.

Celery Seed

Taste & Aroma:Celery seed has an aroma and taste that is much more pronounced than that of the parent plant. It is penetrating and spicy, with hints of nutmeg, citrus and parsley and it leaves a somewhat bitter, burning aftertaste.

Use with: Cabbage, chicken, cucumber, fish, potatoes, rice, soy sauce, tomatoes and tofu.

Combines well with: Cilantro, cloves, cumin, ginger, mustard, parsley, pepper and turmeric.

Chervil

Taste & Aroma: Sweetly aromatic. The taste is subtle and soothing, with light anise notes and hints of parsley, caraway and pepper.

Use with: Asparagus, beets, carrots, cream cheese, eggs, fava beans, fennel, fi sh and seafood, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, poultry, tomatoes and veal.

Combines well with: Basil, chives, cresses, dill, hyssop, lemon thyme, mint, mustard, parsley, salad burnet and tarragon.

Chives

Taste & Aroma: Light, onion aroma and a spicy, onion flavor.

User with: Avocados, cream cheese, egg dishes, fish and seafood, potatoes, smoked salmon, root vegetables and zucchini.

Combines well with: Basil, chervil, cilantro, fennel, paprika, parsley, sweet cicely and tarragon.

Cilantro

Taste & Aroma: Leaves, roots, and unripe seeds all have the same aroma. Some people are addicted to its refreshing, lemony ginger aroma with notes of sage; others hate it and find it soapy and disagreeable. The flavor is delicate yet complex, with a suggestion of pepper, mint, and lemon.

Use with: Avocados, coconut milk, corn, cucumber, fish and seafood, legumes, lemons and limes, rice and root vegetables.

Cinnamon

Taste & Aroma: Warm agreeably sweet, woody aroma that is delicate yet intense. The taste is fragrant and warm with hints of clove and citrus. The presence of eugenol in the essential oil distinguishes cinnamon from cassia, giving it the note of clove.

Use with: Almonds, apples, apricots, bananas, chocolate, coffee, eggplant, lamb, pears, poultry and rice.

Combines well with: Cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, mace, nutmeg, tamarind and turmeric.

Cloves

Tase & Aroma: Assertive and warm, with notes of pepper and camphor. The taste is fruity but also sharp, hot, and bitter; it leaves a numbing sensation in the mouth. As in allspice, eugenol in the essential oil is mainly responsible for the characteristic taste.

Use with: Apples, beets, red cabbage, carrots, chocolate, ham, onions, oranges, pork, pumpkin and
other squashes and sweet potatoes.

Combines well with: Allspice, bay, cardamom, cinnamon, chili, coriander, curry leaves, fennel, ginger, mace, nutmeg and tamarind.

Coriander

Taste & Aroma: Ripe seeds have a sweet, woody, spicy fragrance with peppery and fl oral notes; the taste is sweet, mellow and warm with a clear hint of orange peel.

Use with: Apples, chicken, citrus fruit, fi sh, ham, mushrooms, onions, plums, pork and potatoes.

Combines well with: Allspice, chili, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, mace and nutmeg.

Cumin

Taste & Aroma: The smell of cumin is strong and heavy, spicy-sweet with acrid but warm depth. The flavor is rich, slightly bitter, sharp, earthy, and warm, with a persistent pungency. Use sparingly.

Use with: Beans, bread, cabbage, hard or pungent cheeses,
chicken, eggplant, lamb, lentils, onions, potatoes, rice, sauerkraut and squash.

Combines well with: Allspice, anise seed, bay, cardamom, chili, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, curry leaves, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mace and nutmeg, mustard seed, oregano, paprika, pepper, thyme and turmeric.

Dill

Taste & Aroma: Dill leaves have a clean, fragrant aroma of anise and lemon. The taste is of anise and parsley, mild but sustained. The seeds smell like a sweet caraway due to carvone in the essential oil; the taste is of anise with a touch of sharpness and lingering warmth.

Use leaves with: Beets, carrots, celery root, cucumber, eggs, fava beans, fi sh and seafood, potatoes, rice, spinach and zucchini.

Leaves combine well with: Basil, capers, garlic, horseradish, mustard, paprika and parsley.

Use seeds with: Cabbage, onion, potatoes, pumpkin and vinegar.

Seeds combine well with: Chili, coriander seed, cumin, garlic,
ginger, mustard seed and turmeric.

Fennel

Taste & Aroma: The whole plant has a warm, anise-licorice aroma. The taste is similar: pleasantly fresh, slightly sweet, with a hint of camphor. Fennel seed is less pungent than dill and more astringent than anise.

Use with: Beans, beets, cabbage, cucumber, duck, fish and seafood, leeks, lentils, pork, potatoes, rice and tomatoes.

Combines well with: Chervil, cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek, lemon balm, mint, parsley, Sichuan pepper and thyme.

Fenugreek

Taste & Aroma: The aroma of the raw seeds can be identified as the overriding smell of some curry powders. Their taste is celery or lovage-like and bitter; the texture is floury.

Use with: Fish curries, green and root vegetables, lamb, legumes, potatoes, rice and tomatoes.

Combines well with: Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, garlic, dried limes,
pepper and turmeric.

Garlic

Taste & Aroma: Raw dried garlic is pungent and hot; green garlic is milder. The disulphate allicin is formed when raw garlic is cut, and this accounts for the smell that raw garlic leaves on the breath. Cooking garlic degrades the allicin, but forms other disulphates that have fewer odors.

Use with: Almost anything savory.

Combines well with: Most herbs and spices.

Ginger

Taste & Aroma: Whole dried ginger is less aromatic than fresh, but once bruised or powdered it is warm and peppery with light, lemony
notes. The taste is fiery, pungent, and penetrating.

Use with: Soups, rice, ramen, noodle dishes. Curry and masala blends, five spice powder and pickling spices.

Combines well with: Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, dried fruits, honey, nutmeg, nuts, preserved lemons, paprika, pepper, rose water and saffron.

Juniper Berries

Taste & Aroma: The aroma of juniper is pleasantly woody, bittersweet and unmistakably like gin. The taste is clean and refreshing, sweet with a slight burning effect, and has a hint of pine and resin.

Use with: Apples, beef, cabbage, duck, game, goose, and
pork.

Combines well with: Bay, caraway, celery, garlic, marjoram, pepper, rosemary, savory and thyme.

Mace

Taste & Aroma: Mace has nutmeg’s rich, fresh, and warm aroma, but the smells are stronger and show a lively, floral character with notes of pepper and clove. The taste of mace is warm, aromatic, delicate, and subtle with some lemony sweetness, yet it finishes with a potent bitterness.

Use with: Cabbage, carrots, cheese and cheese dishes, chicken, egg dishes, fi h and seafood
chowders, lamb, milk dishes, onion, pates and terrines, potato, pumpkin pie, spinach, sweet potato and veal.

Combines well with: Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, pepper and thyme.

Marjoram

Taste & Aroma: The basic taste is warm, slightly sharp and bitter with a note of camphor. To this marjoram adds a sweet, subtle spiciness, even in temperate climates.

Use with: Anchovies, artichokes, beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cheese dishes, chicken, corn, duck, eggplant, eggs, fish and shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, onions, pork, potatoes, poultry, spinach, squash, sweet peppers, tomatoes, veal and venison.

Combines well with: Basil, bay, chili, cumin, garlic, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, sumac and thyme.

Mustard

Taste & Aroma: Whole mustard seed has virtually no aroma. When ground it smells pungent, and cooking releases an acrid, earthy aroma. When chewed, black seeds have a forceful flavor; brown ones are slightly bitter, then hot and aromatic; the larger white seeds have an initial sickly sweetness.

Use with: Roast and grilled beef, cabbage, strong cheeses, chicken, curries, dals, fish and seafood, cold meats, rabbit and sausages.

Combines well with: Bay, chili, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, honey, parsley, pepper, tarragon and turmeric.

Nutmeg

Taste & Aroma: Nutmeg and mace have a similar rich, fresh, warm aroma. Nutmeg smells sweet but is more camphorous and pine-like than mace. The taste of both is warm and highly aromatic, but nutmeg has hints of clove and a deeper, bittersweet, woody flavor.

Use with: Cabbage, carrots, cheese and cheese dishes, chicken, eggs, fish and seafood chowders, lamb, milk dishes, onion, potato, pumpkin pie, spinach, sweet potato and veal.

Combines well with: Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, mace, pepper and thyme.

Oregano

Taste & Aroma: The basic taste is warm, slightly sharp, and bitter with a note of camphor. Oregano is robust and peppery, with a bite and often a lemony note. These qualities diminish in colder climates.

Use with: Anchovies, artichokes, beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cheese dishes, chicken, corn, duck, eggplant, eggs, fi sh and shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, onions, pork, potatoes, poultry, spinach, squash, sweet peppers, tomatoes, veal and venison.

Combines well with: Basil, bay, chili, cumin, garlic, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, sumac and thyme.

Paprika

Taste & Aroma: The aroma of paprika tends to be restrained and delicate; caramel notes, fruitiness or smokiness characterize some paprikas, while others have a nose prickling, light heat. Flavors vary from sweetly smoky to rounded and full-bodied, or gently pungent with bitter notes.

Use with: Beef and veal, white cheeses, chicken, duck, most legumes and vegetables, pork and rice.

Combines well with: Allspice, caraway, cardamom, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, thyme, turmeric, sour cream and yogurt.

Parsley

Taste & Aroma: Parsley has a lightly spicy aroma with hints of anise and lemon; its taste is tangy and herbaceous, and has a light, peppery note. Flat-leaf parsley has a more persistent and finer flavor than curly parsley and a finer texture. Both bring out the flavors of other seasonings.

Use with: Eggs, fish, lemon, lentils, rice, tomatoes and most vegetables.

Combines well with: Basil, bay, capers, chervil, chili, chives, garlic, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sorrel, sumac and tarragon.

Pepper

Taste & Aroma: Black pepper has a fine fruity, pungent fragrance with warm, woody and lemony notes. The taste is hot and biting with a clean, penetrating aftertaste. White pepper is less aromatic and can smell musty, but it has a sharp pungency with a sweetish after note. Red or pink peppercorns are fully ripe fruits, usually available preserved in brine or vinegar. They have a soft outer shell with a delicate, almost sweet, fruity taste. The inner core provides a moderate, lingering heat. Green
pepper has light aroma, and an agreeable, fresh pungency; it is not overpoweringly hot. Green peppercorns are preserved
by freeze-drying or dehydration, or packed in brine or vinegar. Keep fresh green and red pepper berries in the refrigerator.

Use with: Most foods.

Combines well with: Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coconut milk, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemon, lime, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.

Rosemary

Taste & Aroma: Rosemary is strongly aromatic, warm and peppery, resinous and slightly bitter, with notes of pine and camphor. Nutmeg and camphor are present in the taste; the aftertaste is woody, balsamic and astringent. The flavor dissipates after leaves are cut. Flowers have a milder flavor than leaves.

Use with: Apricots, cabbage, cream cheese, eggplant, eggs, fish, lamb, lentils, mushrooms, onions, oranges, parsnips, pork, potatoes, poultry, rabbit, tomatoes, veal and winter squashes.

Combines well with: Bay, chives, garlic, lavender, lovage, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, savory and thyme.

Sage

Taste & Aroma: Sage can be mild, musky, and balsamic, or strongly camphorous with astringent notes and a warm spiciness. Generally, variegated species are milder than common sage. Dried sage is more potent than fresh and can be acrid and musty.

Use with: Apples, dried beans, cheese, onions and tomatoes.

Combines well with: Bay, caraway, cutting celery, dried ginger, lovage, marjoram, paprika, parsley, savory and thyme.

Savory

Taste & Aroma: Savories have a peppery bite. Summer savory has a subtle, herbaceous scent and flavor. It is agreeably piquant, slightly resinous, and reminiscent of thyme, mint, and marjoram. Winter savory has a more assertive, penetrating aroma and flavor, with notes of sage and pine.

Use with: Beans, beets, cabbage, cheese, eggs, fish, legumes, potatoes, rabbit, sweet peppers and tomatoes.

Combines well with: Basil, bay, cumin, garlic, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.

Tarragon

Taste & Aroma: The leaves are sweetly aromatic, with hints of pine, anise, or licorice; the flavor is strong yet subtle, with spicy anise and basil notes and a sweet aftertaste. Long cooking diminishes the aroma but the flavor is not lost.

Use with: Artichokes, asparagus, eggs, fish and seafood, potatoes, poultry, tomatoes and zucchini.

Combines well with: Basil, bay, capers, chervil, chives, dill, parsley and salad herbs.

Thyme

Taste & Aroma: The whole plant has a warm, earthy, and peppery fragrance when lightly bushed. The taste is spicy, with notes of cloves and mint, a hint of camphor, and a mouth-cleansing aftertaste.

Use with: Cabbage, carrots, corn, eggplant, lamb, leeks, legumes, onions, potatoes, rabbit, tomatoes, and wild mushrooms.

Combines well with: Allspice, basil, bay, chili, clove, garlic, lavender, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary and savory.

Turmeric

Taste & Aroma: Fresh turmeric is crunchy, has gingery, citrus aromas and an agreeably earthy flavor with citrus overtones. Dried turmeric has a complex, rich, woody aroma with fl oral, citrus and ginger notes. The taste is slightly bitter and sour, moderately pungent, warm and musky.

Use with: Beans, eggplant, eggs, fi sh, lentils, meat, poultry, rice, root vegetables and spinach.

Combines well with: Chili, cilantro, cloves, coconut milk, coriander, cumin, curry leaf, fennel, galangal, garlic, ginger, kaffir, lime leaves, lemon grass, mustard seeds, paprika and pepper.

Wasabi

Taste & Aroma: Wasabi has a fierce, burning smell that makes the nose prickle and a bitingly sharp, but fresh and cleansing taste. Dried wasabi only develops its penetrating aroma and flavor when mixed with water and left to steep for about 10 minutes.

Use with: Avocado, beef, raw fi sh, rice, and seafood.

Combines well with: Ginger and soy sauce.

Can I use salt substitutes?

Salt substitutes are ok if you aren’t on a potassium restriction. If you are told to limit potassium in your diet, be very cautious about using salt substitutes because most of them contain some form of potassium. Check with your doctor or dietitian before using and salt substitute.

High-Sodium Foods

Below is a detailed list of foods that are high in sodium. If you were instructed to follow a low sodium diet, you should learn to limit the following foods.

Salt & Salt Seasonings

  • Table salt
  • Seasoning salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Onion salt
  • Celery salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • Lite salt
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Flavor enhancers

Cold-Cuts/Lunch Meats

  • Hot Dogs
  • Cold cuts, deli meats
  • Pastrami
  • Sausage
  • Corned beef
  • Spam

Processed Foods

  • Soups
  • Tomato products
  • Vegetable juices
  • Buttermilk
  • Cheese
  • Canned vegetables
  • TV Dinners
  • Canned raviolis
  • Chili
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Commercial mixes
  • Frozen prepared foods
  • Fast food

Salty Foods

  • Ketchup
  • Hummus
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Steak Sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Crackers
  • Potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Pretzels
  • Tortilla chips
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Sunflower seeds

Cured Foods

  • Ham
  • Salt pork
  • Bacon
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles, pickle relish
  • Lox & Herring
  • Olives

Did You Know

Americans get 71% of their daily sodium from processed and restaurant foods. [3]

Foods that are Naturally Low in Sodium

Below is a list of foods that are naturally low in sodium. If you were instructed to follow a low sodium diet, then the foods below are acceptable to eat.

Quick Tips:

  • Choose fresh instead of processed foods when you can.
  • Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the amount of sodium. Compare labels to find products with less sodium.
  • Look for foods with low sodium labels

Quick Tip:

If your food comes with a seasoning packet, use only part of the packet. This will lower the amount of sodium in the food.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Any fresh fruits, like apples, oranges, or bananas
  • Any fresh vegetables, like spinach, carrots, or broccoli
  • Frozen vegetables without added butter or sauce
  • Canned vegetables that are low in sodium or have no salt added (rinse canned vegetables to remove some of the sodium)
  • Low-sodium vegetable juice
  • Frozen, canned, or dried fruit with no added sugars

Breads, Cereals, and Other Grains

  • Whole grains such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, or barley
  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta and couscous
  • Whole-grain hot or cold breakfast cereals with no added sugars, like oatmeal or shredded wheat
  • Unsalted popcorn or low-sodium chips and pretzels
  • Whole-grain bread, bagels, English muffins, tortillas, and crackers – many types are high sodium, so be sure to check the label

Protein Food

  • Fresh or frozen fish or shellfish
  • Chicken or turkey breast without skin or marinade
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Dried beans and peas – like kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, and lentils
  • Canned beans labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium” (rinse canned beans to remove some of the sodium)
  • Eggs

Dressings, Oils, and Condiments

  • Unsalted margarine and spreads (soft, tub, or liquid) with no trans fats and less saturated fats
  • Vegetable oils (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower)
  • Low-sodium salad dressing – or oil and vinegar
  • Low-sodium or “no salt added” ketchup
  • Low-sodium salsa or picante sauce

Dairy

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt
  • Low-sodium or reduced-sodium cheese (like natural Swiss cheese)
  • Soymilk with added calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D
sodium nutrition label

How to Read Sodium Content on Labels

Please refer to the nutrition label guide.

Sources: