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Tips For a Low Sodium Diet

Food Fitness. Nourish your body.

Sodium is a mineral found as a natural ingredient in many foods. The most common form of sodium is salt. The low-sodium diet allows you 1/8-teaspoon of salt per day to use in food preparation or at the table.

Salt substitutes use potassium instead of sodium. You may use them if your doctor approves.

However, one should not use salt substitutes with some medications. Check with your doctor to be sure that you can use a salt substitute each time your medication changes.

Recommended Foods for a Low Salt Diet

Following is a list of foods recommended on a low-sodium diet, then a list of those to avoid.

Meat Group (limit 4 to 6 ounces daily):

  • Four to six ounces per day of cooked weight of any meat, poultry (beef, lamb, pork, veal, liver, chicken, duck or turkey) or fish prepared or preserved without salt or sodium
  • Canned tuna or salmon rinsed or low-sodium tuna and low sodium salmon
  • One egg daily or 1/3-cup egg substitute daily, including that used in cooking
  • Low sodium peanut butter (2-tablespoons equals 1-ounce of meat) unsalted nuts, 1-ounce low sodium cheese or you may substitute low sodium cottage cheese for 1-ounce of meat
  • Canned kidney beans, rinsed, and frozen dinners with less than 500mg sodium

Vegetables and Fruit

  • Unlimited amounts of fresh, frozen (without salt or sodium added), or salt-free canned vegetables or vegetable juices without salt or sodium added
  • Include a good source of Vitamin A at least every other day such as a dark green or a deep yellow vegetable

Low Salt Ketchup


Keep your blood pressure out of the danger zone with No Salt Tomato Ketchup By Heinz #. This ketchup is gluten-free and has a rich, tangly flavor with a smooth texture.

Each has ZERO sodium but contain the usual ketchup ingredients: Tomatoes, vinegar, corn syrup, spices, etc. Heinz replaces the salt (sodium choloride) with potassium chloride, which tastes somewhat like salt, but helps lower blood pressure. Hunt's skips the potassium chloride.

Without salt, the ketchups' sweetness registers more clearly on your tastebuds, and the no-salt added have no more calories than the regulars (about 20 calories per tablespoon), which basically makes their addition a freebie.


Any kind of fruit or fruit juice, fresh, frozen, or canned except those listed in foods to avoid
Include a good source of Vitamin C daily such as citrus fruit or juice, strawberries, raw cabbage and cantaloupe.

Bread and Cereals

  • Four slices of regular bread or equivalent per day (bread, rolls, crackers without salted tops)
  • Sandwich rolls equal two servings of bread.
  • One (3/4-ounce) serving of dry cereal per day (250mg or less). Cereals cooked without added salt. You may use salt free bread, rolls, and crackers as desired.
  • Rice, macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, barley prepared without added salt.
  • Unsalted popcorn or pretzels.


  • Four teaspoons per day of regular salted butter, margarine, mayonnaise or mayonnaise type salad dressing or low-sodium mayonnaise
  • Unsalted butter, margarine or salad dressing is not restricted
  • Cooking fat or oil
  • Low sodium salad dressings, cream, non-dairy creamers, sour cream
  • Unsalted nuts, avocado


  • Home made soups made without salt or restricted seasonings
  • Low sodium bouillon, broth and soups
  • Low sodium cream soups made from milk allowance and allowed foods


  • Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, cereal beverages such as Postum
  • Sodium containing carbonated beverages limited to 24-ounces per day
  • Alcoholic beverages with doctor's permission
  • Cocoa made with milk allowance without added salt


  • Gelatin desserts or diet gelatin as desired
  • Fruit ice; home made tapioca, rice and cornstarch pudding or custard made with allowed milk and egg allowance and without the addition of salt or sodium


  • Spices and herbs which do not contain sodium or salt compounds
  • Vinegar, lemon, fresh horse radish without added salt, baking powder and baking soda for allowed baked products only, cream of tartar, Tabasco sauce, Veg-It, Mrs. Dash, yeast, low-sodium catsup, low-sodium baking powder, low-sodium baking soda, low sodium chili sauce
  • Salt substitute or seasoned salt substitute blend containing no sodium with your doctor's approval.

Foods to Avoid on a Low Salt Diet

Milk and dairy Products (limit to 2-cups)

  • Avoid more than 2-cups per day
  • Buttermilk, malted milk, milk shakes, chocolate milk

Meat Group (limit 4 to 6 ounces daily)

  • Any salted, smoked, cured, pickled, dried or canned meat, fish or poultry such as bacon, bacon bits, turkey bacon, bologna, chipped or corned beef, breaded meats, frankfurters, bratwurst, ham, meats koshered by salting, luncheon meats, salt pork, sausage, anchovies, caviar, pickled herring, sardines
  • Regular peanut butter, salted nuts
  • Regular cottage cheese and all other cheese except those listed on the allowed list
  • Canned baked beans
  • Canned, packaged and frozen dinners with more than 500mg sodium


  • Sauerkraut, pickles, olives and other vegetables prepared in a brine; canned and frozen vegetables if processed with salt or sodium
  • Salted potato chips, instant potatoes or potato mixes
  • Regular vegetables or tomato juice


  • Crystallized or glazed fruit

Bread and Cereals

  • Not more than four slices per day of sodium containing breads or rolls; not more than 1-3/4 cup serving daily of dry cereal
  • Breads, rolls and crackers with salted tops
  • Pretzels and other salted snack foods
  • Self-rising flour, mixes containing salt or sodium, biscuit mixes, instant cooked cereals, avoid those with added salt or sodium compounds
  • Cornbread and commercial mixes (i.e., pancake, waffle, rice or pasta mixes, biscuit, etc.) unless low in sodium
  • Stuffing mixes, regular bread crumbs or cracker crumbs


  • Sodium-containing salad dressings, bacon and bacon fat, tartar sauce and salted nuts
  • Gravies made with mixes or bouillon cubes
  • Cream cheese
  • Snack dips made with instant soup mixes or processed cheese


  • Regular canned and dehydrated package soups, broth's, bouillon and consomme


  • Instant cocoa mixes
  • Water with softening equipment


  • Other desserts with less than 125mg sodium
  • More than one serving per day of regular cake, cookies, pie, sherbet, custard, ice cream and ice milk
  • Instant pudding, whipped topping


  • Salt, flavored salts, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), prepared horseradish, prepared mustard, catsup, meat sauces, chili sauce, barbeque sauces, meat tenderizers, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, tartar sauce, Worcestershire sauce, flavored vinegar, relish, olives, pickles, salted snack foods, satled snack foods, salted nuts, cooking wine, Dutch processed cocoa or chocolate
  • Read labels on mixed spices to be sure there is not an addition of salt
  • Sea salt, lite salt (Morton's), Kitchen Bouquet, Butter Buds
  • Prepared package mix gravy

Reading Labels

If a product changed to a lower sodium level, you may see these various terms alerting you to the changes:

  • Reduced or less sodium:  At least 35-percent less sodium than the original version of the product
  • Light in Sodium:  At least 50-percent less sodium than the original version of the product
  • Low Sodium:  140mg of sodium (or less) per serving
  • Sodium Free:  Less than 5mg of sodium per serving

Dining Out:

When dining out, you can reduce the sodium content of a meal by trying these simple suggestions:

  • Use pepper, lemon juice, or bring your own salt free seasoning for flavor
  • Go easy on condiments and sauces. Mustards, catsup, salad dressings, sauces and gravy substantially increase the amount of sodium in your meal
  • Request that food is prepared without added salt and ask for sauces, salad dressing and gravy be served on the side
  • Recognize words that indicate a high sodium content; marinated, pickled, smoked, au jus, teriyaki, soy sauce or in broth
  • Keep it simple. Often special sauces and toppings add extra sodium to foods. Ordering a broiled cut of meat or fish is a better choice than entrees covered with special sauces. Plain meat-type sandwiches are lower in sodium than chicken, egg or tuna salad sandwiches.

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