Sodium (salt) is a mineral found in many foods. We need sodium for important bodily functions such as muscle contraction and water balance. On a two gram (2,000 milligrams [mg]) sodium diet you will be limiting the amount of high-sodium foods that you eat.
A low-sodium diet can prevent or lower high blood pressure, and prevent and improve edema (water retention), which can occur with conditions such as heart failure and kidney disease. The foods highest in sodium include table salt (about 50% sodium), processed foods, condiments, seasonings, convenience foods, and preserved foods. Just one teaspoon of salt has 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium.
Examples of processed foods include canned foods, frozen dinners, snack foods, packaged starchy foods (seasoned rice, instant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese), baking mixes, deli meats and cheeses, sausages, and cured or smoked meats.
|Food Category||Foods Recommended||Foods to Avoid|
|Meats and Beans|
|Fats and Oils|
|Snacks and Condiments|
|Sodium-free||Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving|
|Very low sodium||35 mg of sodium or less in each serving|
|Low sodium||140 mg or less in each serving|
|Reduced sodium||At least 25% less sodium in each serving than the reference food. For example, if the food usually has 1,000 mg of sodium, the same food made with reduced sodium would contain 750 mg of sodium. Food not necessarily “low sodium.”|
|Light in sodium||50% less salt than in original product|
|“No Salt Added” and “Unsalted”||No salt was added to the product. However, the food may still contain sodium.|
American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Heart Association
Dietitians of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Choose foods low in sodium. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/healthdisp/pdf/tipsheets/Choose-Foods-Low-in-Sodium.pdf. Updated December 2013. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Dietary interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 21, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Shaking the salt habit. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Shaking-the-Salt-Habit_UCM_303241_Article.jsp. Updated May 18, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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