Low-Salt Diet

The Basics

A low-salt diet may benefit certain people with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and other medical problems. Most physicians will prescribe a low-sodium diet for these people (or, more specifically, they recommend a low-salt diet, as nonchloride sources of sodium do no increase blood pressure).

Studies that have looked at the relationship between sodium and disease have primarily looked at salt. Therefore, the problem of high sodium intake as it relates to disease may really be a problem of high salt intake.

  • The American Heart Association and other organizations advise people to limit their salt intake to the equivalent of no more than 1,500 mg of sodium (less than a teaspoon of salt) each day.
  • Avoid processed or packaged foods, unless they are labeled “low sodium,” and read the nutrition facts panel to find out the exact amount of sodium they contain.
  • Generally, a food is considered “low sodium” if it has less than 140 mg of sodium cloride per serving.
  • Ask for your meals to be prepared without salt when you eat out.

Shake the salt habit: Choose fresh or frozen foods, and prepare them without salt. Don’t keep a salt shaker at the table—instead use herbs and spices to naturally flavor your foods. Eat unsalted nuts and pretzels instead of the salted versions. Give your taste buds a few weeks to adjust to the lower salt and appreciate the new, more complex flavors.