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How to Reduce Sodium in the Diet

Zoe Schilling

PharmD. Candidate, 2022


You have probably been told that most Americans eat too much sodium. The daily recommended value for sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. Your body needs a small amount of sodium to work properly, but too much sodium can be bad for your health. Diets higher in sodium are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease.

Despite what many people think, most dietary sodium (over 70%) comes from eating packaged and prepared foods—not from table salt added to food when cooking or eating. The majority of foods contain too much sodium and contain added sodium preservatives to make the products last longer. This is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with the food industry to make reasonable reductions in sodium across a wide variety of foods. Even though sodium may already be in many packaged foods when you purchase them, you can lower your daily sodium intake by using the Nutrition Facts label.

According to the guidelines, 140 mg is the criteria for labels saying that they’re low sodium. But there is more to marketing labels than just “low sodium.” There are labels that claim to have “reduced sodium” or “very low sodium” or “no-salt-added.” Here is a table showing exactly how much sodium are in differently marketed labels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40% of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from the following foods:

  • Deli meat sandwiches

  • Pizza

  • Burritos and tacos

  • Soups

  • Savory Snacks (e.g. chips, crackers, popcorn)

  • Poultry

  • Pasta mixed dishes

  • Burgers

  • Egg dishes and omelets

10 Easy Tips for Reducing Sodium Consumption

  1. Read the Nutrition Facts label Compare and choose foods to get less than 2,300 mg of sodium each day.

  2. Prepare your own food when you can Limit packaged sauces, mixes, and “instant” products (including flavored rice, instant noodles, and ready-made pasta).

  3. Add flavor without adding sodium Limit the amount of table salt you add to foods when cooking, baking, or at the table. Try no-salt seasoning blends and herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor to your food.

  4. Buy fresh Choose fresh meat, poultry, and seafood, rather than processed varieties. Also, check the package on fresh meat and poultry to see if salt water or saline has been added.

  5. Watch your veggies Buy fresh, frozen (no sauce or seasoning), or low sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables.

  6. Give sodium the “rinse” Rinse sodium-containing canned foods, such as beans, tuna, and vegetables before eating. This removes some of the sodium.

  7. “Unsalt” your snacks Choose low sodium or no-salt-added nuts, seeds, and snack products (such as chips and pretzels)—or have carrot or celery sticks instead.

  8. Consider your condiments Sodium in condiments can add up. Choose light or reduced sodium condiments, add oil and vinegar to salads rather than bottled dressings, and use only a small amount of seasoning from flavoring packets instead of the entire packet.

  9. Reduce your portion size Less food means less sodium. Prepare smaller portions at home and consume less when eating out—choose smaller sizes, split an entrée with a friend, or take home part of your meal.

  10. Make lower-sodium choices at restaurants Ask for your meal to be prepared without table salt and request that sauces and salad dressings be served “on the side,” then use less of them. You can also ask if nutrition information is available and then choose options that are lower in sodium.

To see full article visit:


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Sodium in Your Diet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed August 24, 2021.

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