A Comprehensive Guide to Follow a Low Sodium Diet

A Comprehensive Guide to Follow a Low Sodium Diet

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most of the Americans obtain almost 71 percent of their sodium from processed foods and the food eaten in restaurants. Only a minute amount of sodium comes from your salt shakers

This is absolutely not meant to demonize the salt you use in general. In fact, sodium is extremely important for your body to function normally. It is among the nutrients the absence of which can lead to electrolyte imbalance.

The problem that lies here is that people are generally consuming an alarmingly high quantity of sodium on a daily basis by eating a lot of unhealthy foods. This is why a low-sodium diet might be necessary.

low sodium diet

Sodium is naturally a part of some healthy foods. However, the processed meat and other foods that you eat when you go out are said to be loaded with salt.

If your sodium levels get extremely high, it is important to cut off these processed foods. Now if you want to maintain a healthy level of sodium in your body, your best option is to go on a low-sodium diet.

So, does the idea of a low-sodium diet appeals you? If so, it is important to learn how to differentiate between a high-sodium and a low-sodium diet.

Keep reading to know about the simplest and the healthiest ways of reducing your total sodium intake.

What Is a Low-Sodium Diet?

A low sodium-diet refers to a diet which can restrict the intake of sodium, commonly found in salt and other sodium-rich foods. How does it compare with a low-sugar low-carb diet?

A low-carb diet particularly focusses on restricting the intake of carbohydrates, especially coming from high-carb foods like pasta and bread. A low-sugar diet, on the other hand, limits the sugar intake. A sugar-free diet is a plan that makes you steer clear of all the added sugar and the hidden sugar foods.

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People who have a problem with blood pressure or high risk of heart failure are often asked to reduce the daily sodium intake in their diets. The best way to achieve this goal is to eat a healthy diet which focuses on fresh whole foods.

Fresh vegetables and fruits have generally low amounts of salts whereas processed foods, canned goods, and fast foods are the offenders which are to be avoided.

low sodium diet

Before going deeper into a low-sodium diet, it is important that you know how many grams of sodium you can safely take on a daily basis.

According to the CDC, the Dietary Guidelines for Americas suggest that the American must use less than 2300 mg of sodium every day as a part of their healthy eating pattern. Keeping these guidelines in mind, most of the Americans are consuming more sodium than they should, typically 3400 mg per day.

Best Low-Sodium Foods

There are a lot of food items that you can eat while keeping your sodium levels low. Some of these include:

  • Fresh/frozen vegetables
  • Fresh/frozen fruits
  • Dried fruits
  • Eggs
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh/frozen lamb, beef, fish, and poultry
  • Yogurt
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Unsalted popcorn (air-popped)
  • Unsalted seeds such as flax, sunflower, and chia seeds
  • Low-sodium cheese, including Emmental, Wensleydale, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and mozzarella cheese
  • Homemade soups with minimal or no salt

As you can see for yourself, there are a lot of things on the list that can make delicious snacks low in sodium. A lot of people tend to question the amount of sodium in eggs. There is 70 mg of sodium in one egg, which is quite low.

It is shocking to know that bread can be a source of sodium. This is why you will easily find low-sodium bread available at your grocery store. If you generally feel like consuming low-sodium diet, stick with fresh whole foods.

While you are using salt, it is better to completely prevent consuming processed table salt. Try opting for a natural salt which is not processed and is free from other added minerals.

Worst Foods High in Sodium

This category mainly consists of food items that generally do not have a salty taste yet may be a high source of sodium. Some of the may taste salty because of an overload of salt in them.

As reported by the CDC, the top five foods that provide most of the sodium to the Americans include chicken, yeast bread, mixed chicken dinners, pasta, pizza, and cold cuts.

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Sodium chloride is the most common form of sodium. Other than this, sodium is also found in a lot of healthy foods such as celery, milk, and beets. Drinking water also contains some amount of sodium but it mainly depends upon the source of water.

Low sodium diet

If you are keeping a check on your daily sodium intake, it might be helpful to know about the following offenders to watch out for:

  • Fast food
  • Salt pork
  • Bacon fat
  • Processed meats such as cold cuts, hot dogs, bacon, bologna, sausage, salami, and ham
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Garlic salt or other seasoned salts
  • Lard and shortening
  • Canned anchovies
  • Pickles and olives
  • Processed cheese
  • Teriyaki, soy, and Worcestershire sauce
  • Instant/canned gravy mixes
  • Steak and barbecue sauces
  • Canned soups
  • Bottled salad dressings
  • Salad dressing mixes
  • Most of the snack foods such as crackers and chips
  • Marinades
  • Meat tenderizers
  • Sodium flavorings and preservatives, for example, monosodium glutamate (MSG)

The Low-Sodium Diet Plan

Go fo the following low-sodium diet plan if you want to maintain the sodium levels in your body.

  • Say No to Processed Food: This is indeed the best way to reduce high sodium levels in your body.
  • Eat Fresh: Make fresh fruits and vegetables a permanent part of your meals to avoid added salt.
  • Select Proper Protein: It is preferable if you consider getting protein from fresh meat and fish. The processed versions of fish and other meats are high in sodium and might not be suitable for you.
  • Prefer Home-cooked Meals: If you cook for yourself at home, you can control your sodium intake much more easily as you have the authority to choose the ingredients in your meals.
  • Always Read Labels: Read all the labels carefully before purchasing anything from the grocery store. This will help you prevent everything that has a high amount of sodium in it. Also look out for other sodium sources such as MSG, sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, sodium alginate, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium nitrate, and sodium citrate.

Low sodium diet

  • Be Creative: Keep in mind that you do not always need salt to season your salad. You may also consider using anti-oxidant rich spices and herbs, such as pepper, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and fresh lemon juice to enhance the flavor of your food without consuming extra sodium.
  • Move the Salt Shaker: If you are struggling too much to consume sodium, it might be a good idea to move the salt shaker to a location where you cannot easily spot it.
  • Avoid Canned Goods: Canned goods are bad, be it vegetables or anything else. These items are overloaded with added salt. So, if you are forced to use canned goods, be sure to rinse its contents to get rid of the major portion of salt.
  • Stay Away from Softened Water: Avoid using softened water for drinking and cooking purposes as it has high levels of sodium.


Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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