The Low Down on Sodium

Click here to download a Microsoft Word document version of this page to save, print or share.

2000 mg Sodium Diet

Benefits:

  • Helps to control blood pressure and improve fluid balance
  • Leads to enhanced ability to taste the natural flavors of food

Guidelines:

  • Compare mgs of sodium to calories, and look for foods that are no more than 1:1 (thus 2000 calories would be 2 gm sodium).
  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, poultry and fish. Processed, cured, canned, instant, and pickled foods as well as some frozen foods are usually high in sodium. Check the label and see how they would use up the daily goal of less than 2000 mg of sodium.
  • Fresh herbs, spice blends without sodium, citrus and flavored vinegar make a tasty alternative to the saltshaker. Salt is an acquired taste and taste buds can be retrained in less than 2-3 weeks.
  • Read food labels for sodium content. Check the Nutrition Panel for milligrams of sodium.

Tips:

  • Put away the saltshaker and reduce or eliminate salt in cooking. Experiment with spices, garlic, onions or lemon instead.
  • Look for low sodium products, i.e., spice blends, tomato products, tuna.
  • Make a list of healthy low sodium foods to substitute. Many groceries now supply this information for their stores.
  • When dining out, request the food be prepared without salt, have dressings or sauces on the side, avoid bacon bits, cheese and croutons at the salad bar.

Understanding the terms:

Sodium FreeOnly a trivial amount of sodium per serving
Very Low sodium35mg or less per serving
Low Sodium140mg or less per serving
Reduced SodiumUsual level of sodium is reduced by 25%
Light or Lite in SodiumUsual level of sodium is reduced by 50%

Modifying your sodium intake

 

LimitTry
Cured and smoked foods such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, luncheon meats, and corn beefTurkey, chicken, tuna, tofu or another low sodium alternative
Salted pretzels, crackers, potato chips, and nutsLow Sodium and Unsalted versions of these foods
Most cheesesUse low sodium cheeses
Sauces (tomato and cream etc.), tomato juicesLow Sodium Versions of these foods, such as replacing regular tomato sauce or juice with the low sodium alternative.
Processed, instant, and convenience foods such as TV dinners, packaged meals, canned soups, and boxed pasta blends are also high in sodium.Cook and freeze your own low sodium meals, soups, and broths. Meals the way you like them, low sodium, and convenient.
  • If you have to use convenience or processed foods, read the labels and choose items with 140-200 mg of sodium per serving per food, or
  • with an entire convenience meal (frozen dinner) try to stay under 500-600mg sodium.
  • If you do used canned foods, use “sodium free” varieties, or rinse the canned food under water. This reduces their sodium content by about 40%.

 

 

Please see your primary care physician and/or cardiologist before making any significant changes in your behavior or diet.