Reducing Sodium

The average American eats too much sodium. Eating too much sodium raises blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke, which are the nation's first and third leading causes of death.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend that people consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day—about one teaspoon of salt.

Pay Attention to Surprisingly Salty Foods

  • Dairy products: Choose cheeses with less than 200 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Cold breakfast cereals and instant hot cereal: Choose cereals with 200 mg or less of sodium per serving.
  • Bread: Choose breads with 200 mg sodium or less per slice and consider eating or serving half sandwiches. Don't eat or serve bread with other foods that are high in sodium.
  • Condiments: Choose condiments in portion-controlled containers, with no more than 75 mg sodium per serving.

General Tips for Reducing Sodium

  • Avoid processed products and select whole foods.
  • Read labels to find the lowest-sodium versions of prepackaged foods.
  • Avoid pickled and brined foods.
  • Let your manufacturers and suppliers know that you are interested in lower-sodium products.

Tips for Delicious and Healthy Low-Sodium Cooking

  • Replace salt with intensely flavored herbs, spices, low-sodium liquids, and salt-free seasonings such as vinegar, lemon juice, wine, and fruit juices.
  • Drain the liquid from and rinse canned foods.
  • Use oil or unsalted butter instead of salted butter when possible.
  • Be aware that baking soda, baking powder, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, sodium nitrate, and nitrite all contain sodium.
  • Choose meats and fish that are roasted, grilled, broiled, baked, poached or steamed.
  • Make sauces, dressings, soups, and condiments from scratch, and serve them on the side. Use no more than 3/4 teaspoon of salt or two tablespoons of soy sauce in every 10-portion batch.
  • Add low-sodium whole foods to processed products—for example, add diced fresh tomatoes to canned tomato sauce.

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