Low Sodium Guidelines

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These are low sodium guidelines for controlling blood pressure or fluid retention. Following these guidelines can limit your salt intake to around 2 grams (2000 milligrams) of salt each day.

If you have hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart failure, following a low salt diet is important for you.

Food Group

Choose More Often

Choose Less Often

Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta


6-11 Servings Daily

1 Serving Equals
• 1 slice bread
• 1/2 cup dry cereal
• 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
• 1 tortilla, 4-6 crackers
• 1 oz ready-to-eat cereal
• 1/2 hamburger bun, bagel or English muffin

Very Low Sodium (without added salt)
• Cooked cereals
• Dry & ready-to-eat cereals (puffed cereals, Shredded Wheat, Kashi)
• Pasta, rice, noodles
• Corn tortillas
• Unsalted crackers, pretzels, popcorn, chips, matzo
Moderate Sodium
• Breads, English muffins, bagels, rolls, pita breads, flour tortillas
• Homemade (without salt) biscuits, cornbread, muffins
• Pancakes or waffles (made without salt) or use a low sodium mix
• Most dry cereals (limit to 1 serving a day)

• Breads with salt topping
• Instant cooked cereals
• Packaged mixes for pasta, rice, noodles, or stuffing; bread crumbs
• Salted Crackers, pretzels, ­popcorn, chips
• Quick breads, biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, or waffles – frozen or made from a mix

Fruits and Vegetables


5-9 Servings Daily

1 Serving Equals
1 cup raw leafy vegetable
1/2 cup cooked vegetable
6 oz vegetable juice
6 oz fruit juice
1 medium fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit

• All fruits and their natural juices
• All fresh, frozen, or unsalted canned vegetables including potatoes

Choose one Vitamin A-rich (dark green, deep yellow or orange in color) and one Vitamin C-rich (citrus, mango, papaya, strawberry, cantaloupe, tomato, chillis, peppers) fruit or vegetable each day

• Salted, canned vegetables and juices or soups
• Pickles, relish, sauerkraut, olives
• Frozen vegetables with added sauces
• Instant, frozen, or canned potatoes

Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese (non-fat or low fat)


2-3 Servings Daily

• 1 Serving Equals
• 1 cup milk or 8 oz yogurt
• 1 1/2 oz cheese

• Milk
• Yogurt (plain or fruit)
• Cheese – low sodium
• Cottage cheese (limit to 1/2 cup a day

• Buttermilk, condensed milk; chocolate milk, milkshakes
• Regular cheese, especially processed

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, & Nuts


2-3, 4-9 oz Servings Daily
1 Serving Equals
• 2-3 oz cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
• Count as 1 oz of lean meat: 1/2 cup beans or tofu, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 oz nuts

• Lean meat, fish, and poultry (chicken or turkey) fresh, frozen, or unsalted canned
• Sliced, unsalted deli meats
• Shellfish – once a week (clams, crabs, scallops, shrimp, lobster)
• Low sodium canned tuna or salmon
• Peanut butter – unsalted
• Tofu (soybean curd)
• Dried beans, peas, or lentils (cooked without salt)
• Unsalted nuts or seeds

• Canned, salted or smoked meat, (bologna, sausages, hot dogs, corned been, chipped beef, bacon, ham, jerky)
• Luncheon or deli meats
• Canned, salted or smoked fish (anchovies, caviar, clams, ­herring, sardines)
• Water packed tuna, rinsed with water
• Organ meats, liver, brains, ­kidney
• Canned or frozen main dishes
• Peanut butter – limit regular to 2 Tbsp per day
• Canned, salted nuts or seeds

Fats and Oils


Use Sparingly
(3-8 Teaspoons)

• Margarine, mayonnaise (regular, diet, or unsalted)
• Oils, unsalted salad dressing
• Sour cream, regular salad dressing

• Salted pork fat, butter
• Olives

Sugars & Sweets


Use Sparingly

• Gelatin, sherbet, sorbet, Popsicle, ice
• Cookies, cakes, desserts-homemade without salt or low sodium package or mix
• Jam, jelly, honey, sugar, hard candy, syrup, marshmallows

(Limit 1 serving per day)
• Frozen ice cream or yogurt
• Cookies, cakes, pastries, desserts-commercial & mixes




• Low sodium canned or frozen soups
• Low sodium bouillon cubes
• Homemade soup-without salt, MSG,
or soup bases

• Canned or frozen soup
• Instant or packaged soup
• Bouillon, broth, or consommé
• Ramen-type oriental soup

Seasonings & Sauces



• Salt substitute (check with your dietitian or health care provider)
• Fresh or dried herbs, spices, powders (garlic or onion); lemon, lime
• Vinegar, liquid smoke, Tabasco, plan ­yellow mustard
• Flavorings-vanilla, rum, mint, etc.

• Salt, seasoned salts, seasoned pepper, or seasoned vinegar’s, monceodium glutamate (MSG); bottled sauces (light soy, soy, Worcestershire, ketchup, barbeque), oriental fish sauce, capers, cooking wine, Dutch process cocoa, specialty mustards



• Water, very low sodium mineral water or club soda, juices; fruit drinks most sodas, low sodium vegetable juices
• Coffee, tea, cereal beverages (Postum)

• Club soda, flavored coffee drinks, vegetable juices, Orange Crush
• Alcohol

Additional Guidelines


Smart Shopping

Eating Out

• Leave the salt out of recipes, except those using yeast
• Take the salt shaker off the table and stove
• Try low sodium baking powder and use regular flour (not self-rising flour) when baking
• For Kosher meats: soak in water one hour before cooking, discard water, and cook in fresh water. Discard water again.
• Use oil instead of margarine or butter in recipes.

• Buy fresh foods when possible. Processed foods have more sodium.
• Read labels. Use the Nutrition Facts panel to compare similar products.
• Understand labeling claims:
• Light in sodium-50% less sodium
• Sodium free-less than 5 mg per serving
• Very low sodium-35 mg or less per serving
• Low sodium-140 mg or less per serving
• Check the 96 Daily Values column. Items less than 5% are good choices. Items more than 20% are high in sodium.

• Eat out less often-Restaurant and fast food outlets tend to be high in sodium and fats. Watch portion sizes.
• Ask questions. Explain what you need.
• Ask to leave out the salt or MSG.

Special Requirements
• A lemon wedge for salad or fish
• Baked potato or sliced tomatoes instead of fried, salted potatoes.
• Fruit, gelatin, sherbet, sorbet instead of baked goods for desserts.
• Order sauces, gravies, salad dressing on the side so you can control the amount.
• Order plain, broiled, roasted, grilled, or steamed foods instead or breaded or fried.

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