While some sodium is vital for ensuring that the fluid in your body is balanced, too much sodium can exacerbate certain conditions. You may need a low-sodium diet if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart failure.
Generally, it is recommended that most people get 2,300 mg of sodium each day. However, if you are on a low-sodium diet, you should stick to less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Talk to your doctor to see if they have any specific recommendations regarding your sodium intake.
You can reduce your sodium intake in several areas of your diet with low sodium foods. Consider all types of food when figuring out how to eat a low-sodium diet menu. In general, fresh fruit and vegetables have the least sodium, while processed foods contain the most sodium. Read on for a low-sodium foods list.
1. Fresh and frozen vegetables (without sauces)
All kinds of fresh and frozen vegetables are healthy choices for a low-sodium diet, depending on how you prepare them. Whenever possible, only eat vegetables fresh or steamed. Avoid adding salt to them and keep them free of sauces. Avoid canned vegetables because they can often have added salt.
You should aim to have four to five servings of fresh or steamed vegetables a day. Try to focus on leafy greens, peppers, and cauliflower. These vegetables provide plenty of vital nutrients you need to maintain your health. Add flavor to your vegetables with other herbs and seasoning instead of salt.
2. Fresh, frozen, or dried fruits
You can enjoy fresh, frozen, or dried fruit around five times a day. Ensure that the frozen and dried options you get do not have any added salt, even though this is unlikely. Fruit such as apples, bananas, and berries can provide nutrients and antioxidants.
3. Grains and beans
Some grains are a good option for a low-sodium diet, and other grains are not best for this diet. Look for whole grains such as farrow, quinoa, and brown rice rather than processed versions.
Choosing the right grains and beans is important for helping you get fiber, protein, and other nutrients. You should aim to get between six to eight servings of grains each day and around six servings of protein a day.
4. Starchy vegetables
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and some other root vegetables are great sources of various vitamins and minerals. These options are naturally low in sodium. It can be easy to add a lot of salt to these vegetables. So, it is a good idea to explore other seasoning options. Starchy vegetables can make up some of your daily six to eight servings of starch or part of the five daily servings of vegetables.
5. Fresh or frozen meat and poultry
Meat provides plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. When choosing your meat, make sure that you select a low-sodium option. Avoid processed meats such as bacon and deli meats. You should also avoid any breaded meats since these can contain salt. Meat and poultry can be part of your six servings of protein for the day.
6. Fresh or frozen fish
Eating fish has many benefits, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. Make sure to season your fish with a minimum of salt. There are plenty of delicious seasonings and cooking methods to get a lot of flavor from your fish. Fish can also be part of your six servings of daily protein.
Eggs naturally contain very little sodium. Whole eggs and egg white are healthy ways to get protein on a low-sodium diet. They also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Just make sure that you are not covering your eggs in salt. Consider eggs part of your six servings of protein for the day.
8. Healthy fats
While some fats can not be ideal in a low-sodium diet, there are several healthy fats that you should integrate into your diet. These include plant-based fats, such as olive oil and avocado oil, which have healthy fatty acids. Choose these healthy fats when you need cooking oil. Get about two to three servings of healthy fats and oils each day.
9. Low-sodium soups
Low sodium soups are a great way to get plenty of healthy food in your diet. However, both canned and handmade soups can contain a lot of sodium. Luckily, there are low-sodium versions of canned soup. You can also find low-sodium soup bases for your homemade soup options. Making soup at home is a great option because you know what is going into your soup, and you can easily control the amount of sodium.
10. Dairy products
Dairy provides some healthy fats and calcium. However, it is important to choose the right dairy products. If you have dairy on a low-sodium diet, stick to fat-free or low-fat options. Good options include ricotta, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, and cream cheese. You should fully avoid processed cheeses or cottage cheese. Aim for about two servings of dairy each day.
11. Bread and baked goods
When it comes to bread and other baked goods, you should look out for whole grain and low-sodium options. Stick to low-sodium bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, and bread crumbs. Choose corn tortillas over flour tortillas. Steer clear of bagels, English muffins, pancakes, and rolls. Any bread or baked goods are part of the six to eight servings of grains you should have in a day.
12. Unsalted nuts and seeds
Unsalted nuts and seeds are a great way to add texture, flavor, and protein to your daily meals. Nuts also offer plenty of benefits that can improve your blood pressure. For example, walnuts can reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eat unsalted nuts and seeds as part of the six servings of protein you should get each day.
13. Low-sodium snack foods
In general, you should minimize your intake of any snack food. Just make sure you are consuming it in moderation, and the options you choose are low in sodium. Several chips, popcorn, and crackers are low in sodium. These snacks do not offer many dietary benefits, but it is nice to know that you have low-sodium options.
14. Low-sodium condiments
Regular condiments can contain a lot of salt. Low-sodium versions of condiments are a great way to get the flavor and texture of your food while minimizing the amount of sodium you get. There is not a strict amount of condiments you should stick to. In general, just make sure you only have a slight amount, and you are not exceeding your daily sodium intake.
15. Low-sodium beverages
Most bottled water and fruit juices are low in sodium. The drinking water in your home is probably low in sodium. On occasion, a water softener can add some salt to your water. However, this amount is usually very low, and it should not impact the health of most people. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned.
However, any vegetable juice may have sodium. Therefore, it is a good idea to look for low-sodium versions of vegetable juices. Powdered drinks, such as hot cocoa and powdered tea can contain sodium. Make sure that your beverage consumption fits in with your regular dietary needs.
16. Low-sodium seasoning
Just because you should avoid adding salt to your food, that does not mean that there are plenty of delicious ways for you to add flavor to your meals. There are several low-sodium ways that you can season your food.
These options include herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends. You can also season your food with liquids like lemon, lime, vinegar, and aromatics such as garlic, onion, and shallots.
What can’t you eat on a low-sodium diet?
There are quite a few types of food that you should avoid on a low-sodium diet. Sometimes you need to cut full categories out of your diet. Other times, you can simply replace high-sodium items with low-sodium food.
1. Fast food
Fast food such as burgers, fries, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings can be very high in sodium. This salt often comes from the breading, but the other components of fast food can also be salty. These often contain low-quality ingredients, so salt is added to increase flavor.
2. Salty snack foods
Salty snack foods can be very attractive. Unfortunately, these snacks are not at all compatible with a low-sodium diet. Look for low-sodium versions of your favorite snacks, and always carefully look at any packaging.
3. Frozen dinners
Frozen dinners can contain a shocking amount of salt. From frozen pizza to tv dinners, you will find plenty of salt. You can find low-sodium frozen foods with less than 600 mg of sodium. However, it is best to avoid these whenever possible.
4. Processed meats
Salt is used in the processing of many types of meat. Therefore, you should avoid bacon, ham, deli meats, sausage, and hot dogs. There are some low-sodium versions of several deli meats. Look for meat that has no added salt if you want to be able to eat deli meats.
5. Salted, canned product
While there are plenty of soups and vegetables that you can get in cans, it is best to avoid these if you are on a low-sodium diet. Most canned food items have added salt. Look out for any low-sodium versions of these foods. As with any packaged item, you can easily read the packaging to gauge the amount of salt it contains.
6. Salty soups
You may be able to find salty soups in cans or recipes for homemade soup. Select low-sodium options when buying canned soup. You may also want to modify any recipes you use to reduce the amount of soup. You may need to use a low-sodium bouillon or make your stock from scratch when making soup.
7. Cheese and dairy
Dairy can contain a range of sodium levels. Stick to certain types of dairy, while avoiding other types. Choose low-sodium options for cheese and avoid processed cheese, dairy spreads, salted butter, cottage cheese, and cheese sauce. Certain varieties of cheese are naturally lower in sodium.
8. High-sodium baked goods
Certain baked goods have a high level of sodium. Bread topped with salts such as rolls, focaccia, and bagels can contain a lot of sodium. Certain types of crackers and croutons can also contain a lot of salt. Instead of eating these options, look for low-sodium options.
9. Baking mixes
Several baking mixes used for pancakes, cakes, and brownies contain high salt levels. So, it is a good idea to avoid any of these mixes. Instead, you can buy low-sodium baking mixes or make your mix.
10. Boxed meals
Boxed meals can make cooking simpler. You usually mix the contents with meats or vegetables and have a ready meal. These boxed meals include pasta and rice meals. Instead of using these boxed meals, try finding easy versions of these meals that use lower sodium ingredients. You may even be able to find low-sodium versions of boxed meals.
11. High-sodium side dishes
Side dishes are an easy place for extra sodium to sneak in. Several side dishes can be very high in sodium. You may find some of these side dishes in boxed versions, but homemade versions can also be high in sodium. Some examples of high-sodium dishes include boxed potatoes, frozen hash browns, rice pilaf, and stuffing.
12. Sauces and condiments
Several common sauces can contain a lot of salt. These sauces and condiments include soy sauce, ketchup, salad dressings, gravy, and mayonnaise. Luckily, there are several low-sodium versions of sauces and condiments that you can substitute for the regular version. Whenever possible, opt for condiments that are low in sodium or only have a small number of regular condiments.
13. Pickled vegetables
Often, part of the pickling process includes salt. The result is a food item that can contain a lot of sodium. So, it is best to avoid pickles, olives, sauerkraut, giardiniera, and other pickled vegetables. You may be able to find some low-sodium versions of pickles.
14. Certain drinks
Beverages are an easy way to consume a lot of sodium accidentally. Many vegetable juices and types of alcohol can contain sodium. Sports drinks also often have salt by design since they aim to increase your electrolytes. That is why it is a good idea to always look at the label of beverages, so you can avoid sodium.
Several seasonings can contain a lot of salt. Besides salt itself, certain spice mixtures may contain salt. Liquid seasonings may contain salt as well. Luckily, most herbs and spices do not have much salt. So, you can feel free to add seasonings such as basil, oregano, chili powder, and turmeric to your food instead.
How to Create a Low-Sodium Diet Plan?
The best place to start when it comes to making a low-sodium diet menu is figuring out the right amount of servings of salt and servings in general for the week. Come up with some meal plans that focus on whole foods such as meat, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
As you make these meal plans, consider seasoning as an integral part of your planning process. Make sure to avoid any seasonings that are particularly high in sodium.
How many calories can you eat while on a low-sodium diet?
The exact amount of calories you should eat on a low-sodium diet is not as important as the amount of sodium you get. It is important to prioritize making sure that the amount of calories you consume is proportional to the amount of sodium you consume.
How many percent of daily fat intake do you need doing a low-sodium diet?
Your daily fat intake should not necessarily change as you transition to a low-sodium diet. In general, the fat you consume should be about 20% to 35% of your daily caloric intake. On a 2,000-calorie diet, you should aim for between 44 and 78 grams of fat every day. Try to make those fats come from healthy fats.
How many percent of daily protein do you need doing a low-sodium diet?
The amount of protein you consume on a low-sodium diet and on a regular diet does not need to be significantly different. Proteins should make up about 10% to 35% of your daily caloric intake. To get the most out of a low-sodium diet, it is important to stick to proteins that do not contain much sodium. For example, stick to low-sodium beans, un-processed meats, and seafood.
Is low-sodium diet food expensive?
Besides being healthy for your body, a low-sodium diet can be healthy for your wallet. High-sodium processed foods can often be more expensive than the whole foods that should make up a low-sodium diet. As you transition away from boxed foods and frozen foods and transition towards fresh fruit, vegetables, fruit, and protein sources, you may notice a reduction in your grocery bills.
What is a sample low-sodium menu for one week?
Cooking at home is an important part of maintaining a low-sodium diet. It is easy to eat food that is high in sodium if you are eating out all the time or order in.
Here is an example of a week of low-sodiums meals and snacks. If you do not want to cook every day, it is very easy to meal prep a big batch of food early in the week so that you can eat well without having to spend too much time cooking.
Breakfast: Avocado benedict with sweet potato slices instead of an English muffin, fruit salad
Lunch: Spinach and mushroom quiche, arugula salad
Dinner: Citrus marinated chicken breasts, chili corn, red cabbage coleslaw
Snack: Homemade popcorn with salt-free seasoning
Breakfast: Hot oatmeal with banana and strawberry, orange juice
Lunch: Salmon and quinoa bowl
Dinner: Garlic pork tenderloin, carrots with cinnamon, quinoa pilaf
Snack: Whole grain toast with ricotta and plum slices
Breakfast: Almond butter and jelly on toast, fruit salad
Lunch: Roast sweet potato with black beans and onions
Dinner: Roast salmon, baked sweet potatoes, kale salad with dried cranberries and walnuts
Snack: Homemade kale chips
Breakfast: Broiled grapefruit, whole-wheat toast with honey
Lunch: Chicken tacos with red cabbage and cream sauce
Dinner: Lentil-stuffed peppers, sauteed collard greens
Snack: Air fryer sweet potato chips
Breakfast: Soft boiled egg, hash browns, blueberries
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich with apple and red onion, low-sodium potato chips
Dinner: Garlic and lime steak, roast potatoes, lemon, and almond green beans
Snack: Roast pumpkin seeds with za’atar seasoning
Breakfast: Flax cereal, yogurt, strawberries,
Lunch: Pork and orzo salad with roast vegetables
Dinner: Black bean and sweet potato soup, whole grain bread
Snack: Homemade apricot granola bars
Breakfast: Overnight chia pudding with blood orange sauce
Lunch: Hummus and roast vegetable sandwich
Dinner: Lamb curry, whole wheat naan
Snack: Homemade hummus and vegetables
Should you avoid canned veggies while on a low-sodium diet?
You should avoid most canned veggies on a low-sodium diet. They are often packaged with a lot of salt. Some canned vegetables are low in sodium. Those low-sodium vegetables are the ones that you should try to eat.
How much salt should you eat while on a low sodium diet?
You should stick to under 1,500 mg of salt on a low-sodium diet. 1,500 mg of sodium equates to about three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. This amount may vary depending on your exact health needs. So, you should consult with your doctor to see if they have specific advice for you.
What are the tips for eating less salt at home?
- The most important move that you can make is getting rid of your table salt shaker.
- Avoid cooking with salt, and use lemon and other seasonings in your cooking.
- Use whole and fresh foods in your cooking rather than processed foods.
- It is also a good idea for you to cook as much as possible at home rather than going out to eat.
- Replace processed and salty snacks with fresh items, low-sodium snacks, and homemade snacks.
- Replace high-sodium marinades and dressings with low-sodium or homemade versions.