What is a Low-Sodium Diet?

Due to the abundance of highly-processed foods at our disposal, it can be easy to overdo it on sodium. Sodium is a mineral that is regulated by our kidneys, controls fluid balance in our bodies, and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. It also impacts muscle function. The primary source of sodium in the average diet is from table salt. Much of the sodium we consume is added during the processing of packaged foods. 

Sodium is actually an essential nutrient and found naturally in many foods, however the average American consumes five or more teaspoons of salt daily. Since the body only needs around 500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, this is roughly equivalent to 20 times more than the body needs. 

When we consume too much sodium, it can negatively impact our health. High-sodium diets are linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, fluid retention, and other health conditions. By limiting the sodium in your daily diet to no more than 2300 mg, it can potentially reduce your risk of these health conditions. Some patients may need to eat closer to 1500 mg due to recommendations from their healthcare provider to help manage certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any health conditions or concerns regarding your sodium needs. 

Tips for Decreasing Sodium Intake

Sodium is an essential nutrient most commonly associated with the seasoning salt. Salt is known as a flavor enhancer and is also used as a preservative. Although essential, it is easy to over-consume sodium.

1. Reduce salt used in cooking

Rule of thumb, if you added salt to your food while cooking, don’t add it after cooking. 

2. When looking at food labels, low sodium is defined as 140 mg or less of sodium per serving. Choose these options! 

3. Check your condiments!

Some condiments can drive up daily sodium intake when we don’t pay attention to servings. 

4. Swap out some of your processed foods for the fresh version. 

5. Get creative! 

Try seasoning your food with herbs and other flavors rather than salt. Try basil, dill, citrus, paprika or curry powder! 

Naturally high-sodium foods:

  • Deli meat
  • Pickles 
  • Canned foods
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Cured meats