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.
Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta
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
• Cooked cereals
• Dry & ready-to-eat cereals (puffed cereals, Shredded Wheat, Kashi)
• Pasta, rice, noodles
• Corn tortillas
• Unsalted crackers, pretzels, popcorn, chips, matzo
• 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)
• 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
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 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
• Pickles, relish, sauerkraut, olives
• Frozen vegetables with added sauces
• Instant, frozen, or canned potatoes
Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese (non-fat or low fat)
• 1 Serving Equals
• 1 cup milk or 8 oz yogurt
• 1 1/2 oz cheese
• Yogurt (plain or fruit)
• Cheese – low sodium
• Cottage cheese (limit to 1/2 cup a day
• Regular cheese, especially processed
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, & Nuts
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
• 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
• 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
• Oils, unsalted salad dressing
• Sour cream, regular salad dressing
Sugars & Sweets
• Cookies, cakes, desserts-homemade without salt or low sodium package or mix
• Jam, jelly, honey, sugar, hard candy, syrup, marshmallows
• Frozen ice cream or yogurt
• Cookies, cakes, pastries, desserts-commercial & mixes
• Low sodium bouillon cubes
• Homemade soup-without salt, MSG,
or soup bases
• Instant or packaged soup
• Bouillon, broth, or consommé
• Ramen-type oriental soup
Seasonings & Sauces
• Fresh or dried herbs, spices, powders (garlic or onion); lemon, lime
• Vinegar, liquid smoke, Tabasco, plan yellow mustard
• Flavorings-vanilla, rum, mint, etc.
• Coffee, tea, cereal beverages (Postum)
• 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.
• 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.
• Ask questions. Explain what you need.
• Ask to leave out the salt or MSG.
• 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.
Source: Mattes RD, Donelly D./ Am Coll Nutr. 1991, Aug.