A low-sodium diet can help you prevent serious diseases. One way to decrease your salt intake is to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes
Sodium is an important mineral that plays a role in regulating fluids, electrolytes, and blood pressure. However, many people eat too much sodium, whether it’s in table salt or processed and canned foods.
One way to decrease dietary sodium intake is to consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and stick to homemade meals. Studies show that eating the following foods can help keep your sodium intake low:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits, such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers
- Fresh, frozen, or dried fruits, such as berries, apples, bananas and pears
- Canned vegetables or beans that mention they are low in sodium (you can also rinse canned vegetables before use to eliminate excess sodium)
- Low sodium salad dressings and fixings
- Bread and grains that are low in sodium
- Grains and beans, such as dried beans, brown rice, farro, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta
- Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and parsnips
- Frozen vegetables without added sauce
- Fresh or frozen meat and poultry, such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pork
- Fresh or frozen fish, such as cod, sea bass, and tuna
- Whole eggs and egg whites
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and avocado oil
- Low-sodium soups, such as low-sodium canned or homemade soups
- Dairy products, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, unsalted butter, and low-sodium cheese
What not to eat on a low-sodium diet
Examples of food that should be avoided on a low-sodium diet include:
- Fast food: Burgers, fries, chicken strips, pizza, etc.
- Salty snacks: Salted pretzels, salted nuts, salted chips, etc.
- Frozen meals: Frozen meat dishes, frozen pizza, etc.
- Processed meat: Bacon, hotdog, lunch meats and franks.
- Salted, canned items: Vegetables, pasta, meats, fish, etc.
- Salted soups: Canned soups, etc.
- Cheese and dairy: Cheese, cheddar spreads, curds, buttermilk, salted margarine, etc.
- High-sodium baked goods: Salted rolls and bagels, bread garnishes, etc.
- Baking blends: High-sodium waffle, pancake, or cake blends
- Boxed dinners: Macaroni and cheese, pastas, rice dinners, etc.
- High-sodium side dishes: Stuffing, boxed potatoes, rice pilaf, etc.
- Sauces and toppings: Gravy, soy sauce, canned tomatoes, salsa, salad dressings, etc.
- Salted vegetables: Pickles, olives, sauerkraut, etc.
- Some beverages: Vegetable juice, juice mixes, strong cocktails, etc.
What are the benefits of a low-sodium diet?
Sodium is fundamental for keeping up with the body’s fluid balance, and it plays a significant part in nerve and muscle functions. However, a lot of dietary sodium can cause serious health problems. So although you should not totally cut out sodium from the diet, it is important to keep the salt consumption below 1500 mg per day.
Tips for eating less salt at home
Salt is used in almost every dish to add flavor, but there are ways you can reduce the amount or cut it out entirely when cooking. Replace salt with one of the following alternatives:
- Salt-free flavoring mixes
- Spices and herbs
- Chopped onion, garlic, or peppers
- Lime or lemon juice
Having home-cooked meals is a great way to keep an eye on your sodium intake.
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Medically Reviewed on 9/24/2021
UCSF Health. Guidelines for a Low Sodium Diet. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines-for-a-low-sodium-diet
Medline Plus. Low-salt diet. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000109.htm