Cutting back on salt
Salt or sodium is found naturally in all foods. Most of the salt and sodium we eat comes from packaged and processed foods, restaurant foods and from the salt we add during cooking or at the table.
Cutting back on sodium can help you if you are retaining fluid or have high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney problems.
Aim to eat less than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. This includes the sodium already in the food you eat, and the sodium you add during cooking and at the table.
Every 1 tsp (5 mL) of salt contains about 2300 mg of sodium.
Tips to reduce salt in your diet
- Do not add salt when cooking or at the table.
- Choose fresh, unprocessed food more often.
- Avoid or limit processed, packaged and pre-prepared foods.
- Season foods with lemon juice, vinegar, herbs, spices, garlic or onions instead of salt. Switch to no added salt seasonings such as Mrs. Dash®.
- Avoid fast food, which usually has high amounts of salt.
- Spread the 2300 mg sodium you are allowed throughout the day.
- If you choose higher sodium foods, eat small amounts.
Salt substitutes: Talk to a Registered Dietitian or your doctor about whether you should use salt substitutes. They contain potassium which can be a problem in certain medical conditions.
Read food labels
There are high amounts of salt in foods that are pickled, canned, marinated or cured (bacon, salami, pepperoni, and garlic sausage).
In the Ingredient List
- Sodium can appear in the ingredient list as the word “salt”, “sodium” or “soda”. Ingredients are listed from most to least. This means that the earlier an ingredient appears on the list, the more of it there is in the product.
- If the word salt, sodium or soda is listed in the first three ingredients, or listed more than three times in the ingredient list, choose another food.
On the Nutrition Facts table
- Choose more often foods that have less than 5% sodium listed as a % Daily Value.
- Choose once in a while pre-prepared or frozen meals with 700 mg sodium or less per serving.
Low Sodium Label Claims
Claims made on food labels can be confusing. Foods with some of the claims below may still be high in salt. It is important to check the Nutrition Facts table r sodium amounts.
- Sodium Free
- Low Sodium
- Reduced or Less sodium
- Lightly salted
Remember to read the label on packaged foods. The sodium content will vary between different brands of the same food.
View pdf to see examples of foods and their sodium content.