Salt: How To Eat Less Salt and Sodium

Eat less salt and sodium.

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Eat Less Salt and Sodium

Why should you eat less salt and sodium?

You should cut back on salt and sodium in your diet to help prevent or lower high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure lowering it can reduce your chances of heart disease and stroke.

Did you know....

Table salt is made up of two compounds, sodium and chloride. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed foods. The remaining comes from the salt added at the table, and salt added while cooking. Limit the amount of sodium that you consume from all these sources to no more than 2,400 milligrams (mg) each day which is equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt.

Tips to eating less salt and sodium - be a smart shopper

  • Read the food label to find out more about what is in the foods you eat. This will help you choose foods to limit the amount of sodium you eat to 2,400 mg each day.
  • Size up your food. Compare the amounts you will eat to the serving size given. If you eat 2 cups and the serving size is 1 cup, you have to double the amounts of nutrients and calories listed.
  • Read the nutrition information. Use the "Percent Daily Value" to compare the amount of sodium among brands. Choose those foods that have lower values. One serving of this product contains 28 percent, or about 1/4 of the amount of sodium you should have for the entire day.
  • Buy foods with these claims more often. The food label may include terms such as:
    • sodium free
    • very low sodium
    • low sodium
    • reduced (or less) sodium
    • light in sodium
    • unsalted
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup (228 g)
Serving Per Package 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 260 Calories from fat 120
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 20%
Saturate Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 30 mg 10%
Sodium 600mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 5g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A 4% - Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 15% - Iron 4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:


2,000 2,500
Total Fat Less than 65g 80g
Saturated Fat Less than 20g 25g
Cholesterol Less than 300mg 300mg
Sodium Less than 2,400mg 2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate 300g 375g
Dietary Fiber 25g 30g
Calories per gram
Fat 9 - Carbohydrate 4 - Protein 4

Choose these foods more often

  • Chicken and turkey (take off skin)
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Fish: Fresh or frozen
  • Skim or 1% milk, evaporated skim milk
  • Cheese: lower or reduced in sodium
  • Loaf breads, dinner rolls,
  • English muffin, bagels, pita, and salt-free chips
  • Cereals: some hot cereals and some ready-to-eat cold cereals lowest in sodium*
  • Plain rice and noodles
  • Fresh, frozen, or no salt added canned vegetables
  • Fruits Soups: lower or reduced in sodium
  • Margarine, vegetable oils
  • Spices, herbs, and flavorings like oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt free seasoning blends, vinegar, and fruit juices

Choose these foods less often

  • Hogmaws, ribs, and chitterlings
  • Smoked or cured meats like bacon, bologna, hot dogs, ham, corned beef, luncheon meats, and sausage
  • Canned fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel**
  • Buttermilk +
  • Most cheese spreads and cheeses
  • Salty chips, nuts, pretzels, or pork rinds
  • Some cold (ready to eat) cereals highest in sodium, instant hot cereals
  • Quick cooking rice and instant noodles, boxed mixes like rice, scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese, ++ and some frozen dinners, pot pies and pizza*
  • Regular canned vegetables**
  • Pickled foods like herring, pickles, relish, olives, or sauerkraut
  • Regular canned soups, instant soups
  • Butter, fatback, and salt pork
  • Soy sauce, steak sauce, salad dressing, ketchup, barbecue sauce, garlic salt, onion salt, seasoned salts like lemon pepper, bouillon cubes, meat tenderizer, and monosodium glutamate (MSG)*

*Read the food label to choose those lower in sodium.

**Rinse canned fish or vegetables before using.
Although buttermilk is high in sodium, 1 percent or skim buttermilk can be used in cooking to replace whole milk or fat.
Modify cooking directions and prepare with less salt, if possible.

Go easy in the kitchen

Use less salt and seasoned salt when you cook.

  • Use spices and herbs or low sodium seasonings like sodium free bouillon or onion powder, garlic powder, and sodium free seasoning blends.

Try these:

  • Sprinkle lemon juice over vegetables.
  • Season or marinate meat, poultry, and fish ahead of time with onion, garlic, and your favorite herbs before cooking to bring out the flavor.

Take steps to make meals lower in salt and sodium.

  • Use smoked or salt-cured meat products only in small amounts for flavoring.
  • Prepare fresh lean pork roast instead of country ham.
  • Rinse canned vegetables and fish such as tuna to remove some sodium.

Take the lead at the table

  • Remove the salt shaker.
  • Keep the pepper shaker.
  • Taste the food first.
  • If you must add salt, use one "shake" instead of two or more.
  • Cut down on the amount of salty prepared sauces or condiments you use.

Be in control at the restaurant

  • Choose foods without sauces. If you prefer, ask for sauce and salad dressing to be served "on the side."
  • Ask for your meal to be prepared without salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Then if you must, you can add a small amount of salt.

Check the things you will do to eat less salt and sodium

Check things you will do Read food labels. Choose foods that have the lowest Percent Daily Value for sodium. Also buy foods that are labeled "reduced sodium," "low sodium," "sodium free," or "no salt added."

Check things you will do Buy fruits and vegetables for snacks. Choose chips, crackers, or nuts that are lower in sodium.

Check things you will do Take the salt shaker off the table.

Check things you will do Choose no salt added regular canned vegetables, vegetable juices, soups, sauces, and gravies. Most frozen vegetables without sauces are low in sodium.

Check things you will do Choose fresh or frozen lean cuts of meat, fish, and poultry.

Check things you will do Season your food with herbs and spices instead of salt.



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Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine September 13, 2017

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health

WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information