Sodium is a mineral with the essential function of regulating the fluid balance in your body. This balance is vital to maintaining consistent blood volume and blood pressure. Many people’s diets contain more sodium than needed to be healthy. High levels of sodium in your diet can cause the body to retain too much fluid and result in edema, swelling and difficulty breathing.
For individuals with certain medical conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease, pulmonary disease or renal disease, it may be necessary to restrict the amount of sodium taken in by the body. Based on your medical needs your physician will recommend a daily sodium intake limit, which in some cases may be as little as 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) per day. Before beginning a low sodium diet, speak to your physician about any medications you are taking as they may contain sodium compounds.
What foods and food products are LOW in sodium?
Regular cooked cereals such as oats, cream of wheat
Puffed wheat cereal
Puffed rice cereal
Shredded wheat cereal
All unsalted crackers and snack foods
Unsalted peanut butter
All types of pastas such as macaroni, spaghetti, rigatoni, ziti
White northern beans
Fresh or frozen meat, poultry, and fish
Low-sodium canned tuna and salmon
Fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned vegetables or vegetable juices
Low-sodium tomato paste and sauce
Fresh, canned, or frozen fruit and juices
Low-sodium cottage cheese
Unsalted butter, margarine, cooking oils, or shortenings
Salt-free gravies, cream sauces, and salad dressings
Salt-free soups and low-sodium bouillon cubes
Angel food cake
Salt-free baked goods
Fruit flavored drinks that do not contain sodium
Fresh and dried herbs
Low-sodium mustard, vinegar, Tabasco sauce
Low-sodium or no-salt-added ketchup
Extracts (almond, lemon, vanilla)
Baking chocolate and cocoa
Seasoning blends that do not contain salt
What foods and food products are HIGH in sodium?
Breads or rolls (sodium content can vary, be sure to read the label)
Packaged cracker or bread crumb coatings
Packaged stuffing mixes
Instant hot cereals
Salted crackers and snack items
Regular peanut butter
Party spreads and dips
Macaroni and cheese mix
Seasoned rice, noodle, and spaghetti mixes
Frozen lasagna, rice, and pasta dishes
Seasoned potato mixes
All canned beans
Any beans or peas prepared with ham, bacon, salt pork, or bacon grease
Salted, smoked, canned, spiced, and pickled meats
Poultry and fish
Regular canned tuna or salmon
Pre-breaded frozen meats, fish, and poultry
Regular canned vegetables and vegetable juices
Regular tomato sauce and tomato paste
Olives, pickles, relishes, sauerkraut or vegetables packed in brine
Frozen vegetables in butter or sauces
Crystallized and glazed fruit, maraschino cherries, fruit dried with sodium sulfite
Processed cheese slices and spreads
Commercially prepared sauces, gravies, and salad dressings
Regular commercially canned or prepared soups, stews, broths, or bouillon
Packaged and frozen soups
Regular commercially prepared and packaged baked goods
Carbonated beverages with sodium or salt added
Steak and barbecue sauce
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)|
Check with physician about alcoholic beverages
Check with physician about salt substitutes
Food Label Claims Regarding Sodium
Sodium free: Contains less than 5mg sodium per serving.
Low sodium: Contains less than 140mg per reference amount (and per 50g if reference amount is small). Meals and main dishes contain 140mg or less per 100g serving.
Reduced or less sodium: Contains at least 25% less sodium per reference amount than the original food.
Light in sodium: Used if the food’s sodium is reduced by at least 50% per reference amount.
Very low sodium: Contains 35 mg or less per reference amount.
Light: The term “light” may appear on sodium-reduced products, if the food is low calorie and low fat, and if sodium is reduced by at least 50% per reference amount as compared to the original food.
Healthy: A food labeled “healthy” must meet the sodium requirement of 480 mg or less for individual foods, seafood, and game meats, and 600 mg or less for meals and main dishes.
1 tsp of salt contains 2300mg sodium
While a low sodium diet can improve your health, there are people who may do better by not decreasing sodium in their diet. Therefore, attempting a low sodium diet without physician supervision is not recommended. Your healthcare provider is the best source of information for questions and concerns related to your health. To find a physician near you, please see our locations page.