A Guide to Low-Sodium Diet Foods and Sample Meal Plans


Almost one in two adults in the United States has hypertension, a medical term for high blood pressure, and the prevalence is slightly higher if you consider single men. If you are in this group or have other medical problems or concerns, chances are your doctor will recommend that you eat a low sodium diet. While your body needs sodium – because it’s an important electrolyte involved in muscle contractions, the conduction of electrical impulses in the heart, and the regulation of water balance – the typical American diet is extremely high in sodium. Excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure and can strain the heart over time.

the Diet guidelines for Americans recommends that adults limit their daily sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day, which is equivalent to a teaspoon of table salt, but 97% of men aged 19 to 59 exceed the recommended intake for their age. In fact, research shows that men aged 19 to 30 consume an average of 4,727 mg, and men aged 31 to 59 consume an average of 4,172 mg, about double the recommended limit.


A low sodium diet deliberately limits the amount of sodium consumed each day and has been shown to effectively lower blood pressure and improve heart function. It can be intimidating to start a low sodium diet, and you might feel like you have to give up some of your favorite foods, but the good news is that there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods you can still eat. low grade. – a sodium diet and you will probably feel so much better that all the sacrifices will be worth it. Read on for our comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about a low sodium diet.

What is a low sodium diet?

Sodium, which is basically various forms of salt, occurs naturally in some foods like eggs and spinach, but the majority of the sodium we eat is added to processed and prepared foods to improve flavor and shelf life. Extra table salt goes into the diet when people salt and season their food before eating it. A low sodium diet generally limits sodium intake to 1500 mg per day, which is below the recommended daily limit of 2300 mg and significantly lower than what the average American adult actually consumes. Very low sodium diets limit sodium even more. Foods high in sodium should be eliminated from the diet completely, and the emphasis should be on whole, natural, unprocessed foods with little or no added table salt.

When following a low sodium diet, it is very important to read the nutrition label of any packaged food to assess the sodium content. Look for foods that contain less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. There are also labels used on products to indicate their sodium content, including the following:

  • Salt / sodium free: Must contain less than 5 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Very low sodium content: Contain a maximum of 35 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Low sodium content: Contain a maximum of 149 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Reduced sodium: The product contains at least 25% less sodium than the regular version, but the specific sodium content can be anything.
  • Slightly salty or light in sodium: The product contains at least 50% less sodium than the regular version, but the specific sodium content can be anything.
  • No added or unsalted salt: No salt is added during the manufacture of the product but it may contain natural sodium inherent in the ingredients.

Benefits of a low sodium diet

Fresh vegetables on a wooden table.

Because sodium increases fluid retention, increases blood pressure, and puts strain on the heart and kidneys, following a low-sodium diet can have the following benefits:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Weightloss
  • Decreased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Improved kidney function, especially in people with kidney disease
  • Decreased edema and improved circulation
  • Improving the quality of food

Foods to Avoid on a Low-Sodium Diet

Bacon and eggs on a white plate.

People tend to think that adding table salt to foods before eating them is the main culprit behind high sodium levels, but about 70% or more of the sodium most people eat comes from various salts in it. prepared and processed foods. The following foods are particularly high in sodium and should be avoided on a low sodium diet:

  • Fast food: Burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, Chinese fast food, tacos, onion rings, etc.
  • Salty snacks: Salty pretzels, popcorn, trail mix, potato chips, tortilla chips, salted nuts, salted crackers, pork rinds, cheese doodles and cheese snacks, snack mix, tater tots, and more.
  • Canned and jarred savory products: Most canned and prepared soups and broths, corn and other salted canned vegetables, canned chili peppers, refried beans, jarred sausages, spam, pickles, cocktail onions, hearts. ‘marinated artichokes, olives, etc.
  • Processed meats: Cold cuts and cold cuts, sausages, bacon, hot dogs, etc.
  • Frozen meals: Frozen pizza, frozen entrees, frozen prepared lasagna, frozen Chinese dishes, frozen pies, etc.
  • Packaged savory side dishes: Stuffing mixes, instant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rice mixes, pilaf, hash browns, etc.
  • Salted dairy products: Parmesan cheese and hard processed cheeses, buttermilk, feta cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, brie, etc.
  • Certain bread products: Canned and prepared cookies and croissants, muffin mixes, many pancake and waffle mixes, danishes, English muffins, protein pizza dough, tortillas and wraps, croutons, hot dog buns, buns, instant oatmeal, some canned cereal, savory bagels, savory crackers and pita chips.
  • Sauces and condiments: Soy sauce, salsa, teriyaki sauce, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, sauerkraut, some dressings, most tomato sauces, salted peanut butter, etc.
  • Beverages: Vegetable juices and salty alcoholic drinks, certain hot cocoa powders, etc.
  • Mixtures of table salt and savory seasonings: Salt, garlic salt, onion salt, MSG, meat tenderizers, etc.
  • Restaurant food: Soups, broths, appetizers, pizzas, starters. Aim for dishes marked as “heart-healthy” or “low-sodium” or ask if your dish can be prepared with minimal salt.
  • Fats and oils: Salted butter, margarine, olive oil, lard, shortening, bacon fat, etc.
  • Other high sodium items: Anything that is more than 20% of the Daily Value for sodium.

Foods to eat on a low sodium diet

Bananas, peppers, tomatoes and other products on a table.

A low sodium diet should include as many healthy whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and lean protein as possible with smart choices of low sodium dairy, nuts, seeds, etc. Unsalted herbs and spices should be used in place of prepared high sodium condiments and seasonings. Here are the foods to eat on a low sodium diet:

  • Vegetables: Fresh or frozen kale, carrots, chard lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, asparagus, sweet potatoes, beets, squash, onions, etc. Avoid canned spinach and most canned vegetables, as they are quite salty.
  • Fruits: Pears, apples, melons, oranges, grapefruit, plums, apricots, peaches, berries, bananas, pomegranates, kiwi, coconut, tomatoes, dates, figs, etc.
  • Whole grain and bread products: Whole oats, unprocessed, whole wheat, barley, brown rice, quinoa, teff, farro, etc. low sodium cereals, low sodium bread, unsalted pretzels and crackers, plain rice, pasta, etc.
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish: Fresh or frozen unsalted lean beef, bison, venison, pork, chicken, turkey, salmon, scallops, tofu, canned unsalted or low sodium tuna, etc.
  • Low sodium dairy products: Cheeses naturally low in sodium (Swiss cheese, goat cheese, ricotta, fresh mozzarella), cottage cheese with no added sodium, milk, eggs, etc.
  • Legumes: Dried or low sodium beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soybeans, etc. Rinse canned beans thoroughly to reduce sodium.
  • Nuts and seeds: Unsalted or very little salted almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, Brazil, unsalted peanut butter, etc.
  • Fats and oils: Olive oil, avocados, linseed oil, coconut oil, unsalted butter, etc.
  • Herbs and spices: Basil, thyme, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, rosemary, cumin, unsalted chili powder, etc.
  • Beverages: Water, tea (herbal tea, green tea, black tea, etc.), red wine, coffee.

Sample Low Sodium Diet Meal Plan

A bowl of fruit including raspberries and pineapple.

Curious about what a meal day on a low sodium diet might look like? Below we share an example of a low sodium diet:

  • Breakfast: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup mixed berries, ½ cup low fat muesli or granola, blueberries, raspberries and unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • Breakfast: Rice bowl made with brown rice, baked chicken breast, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, low sodium cheese, lime juice, jalapeño and unsalted almonds. Clementines side.
  • Nibble: Melon and unsalted nuts.
  • Having dinner: Grilled salmon over cauliflower rice seasoned with lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley, baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt or unsalted butter, spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots and low sodium dressing.
  • Nibble: Apple with unsalted almond butter sprinkled with cinnamon and an ounce of dark chocolate.

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