Save Your Health: Maintaining a Low Sodium Diet

low sodium dietWhile sodium is something we need, most of us eat too much of it. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day while the American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day (less than 1 teaspoon of table salt).

Good Low Sodium Food Choices

  • Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce
  • Salt-free nuts
  • Plain rice and potatoes
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Cooked pasta without salt
  • Fresh fish and chicken (watch out for chicken injected with sodium) and lean meat
  • Orange or pineapple juice as a base for meat marinades
  • Condiments such as cranberry relish or apple butter
  • Fresh or dried herbs, spices, sodium-free seasoning blends, zest from citrus fruit, vinegar and fruit juices to jazz up meals
  • Puffed rice and puffed wheat cereals

Foods to Eat in Moderation

  • Processed and packaged foods: read the labels when shopping and look for lower sodium options; 77% of salt intake comes from processed and prepared restaurant foods
  • No salt added pasta sauces
  • Soup made from scratch
  • Oil roasted, salted peanuts
  • Ketchup (low sodium options)
  • Cheese (low sodium options)
  • Bread or rolls
  • Milk

Foods to Avoid

  • Frozen dinners (5-ounce turkey and gravy dinner = 787 milligrams of sodium)
  • Canned soups (744 milligrams of sodium)
  • Vegetable drinks (one cup = 479 milligrams of sodium)
  • Processed meats including lunchmeats, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and ham (as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium)
  • Pizza (one slice = 760 milligrams of sodium)
  • Breaded chicken (3 ounces = 600 milligrams of sodium)
  • Teriyaki sauce (1 tablespoon = 690 milligrams of sodium)
  • Soy sauce (1 tablespoon = 1,024 milligrams of sodium)
  • Spaghetti sauce (1/2 cup = 554 milligrams of sodium)
  • Dry-roasted, salted peanuts (1 ounce = 192 milligrams of sodium)
  • Snack foods (potato chips = 136 milligrams, cheese puffs = 240 milligrams, pretzels = 385 milligrams)

Note: When you’re scanning a food label, don’t just look for the word “salt.” Watch out for various forms of sodium or other names for the same thing:

  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium ascorbate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sodium saccharin
  • Sodium stearoyl lactylate
  • Sodium sulfite
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Na

For more tips on maintaining a low sodium diet or to hire professional in-home care with meal planning and preparation, contact CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 or (714) 421-4005.

Source: WebMD,, CDC, Mayo Clinic, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Click here to download a printable PDF version of this page.