When you have too much salt in your diet, it makes your body hold on to water. This can cause swelling, and can make it harder for your heart to work. Eating too much salt also raises blood pressure. Eating a lot of salt also makes your body lose calcium in your urine. This can lead to brittle bones and kidney stones.
You should have no more than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. That is about 1 teaspoon of salt. Some people should have less salt than that. Talk with your healthcare provider about the right amount of sodium for you.
The taste for salt is a habit. When you use less salt, your taste starts to change. After a while, food may taste better without salt.
Use less salt
There are 2 main ways to use less salt:
Do not add salt to your foods.
Choose foods that have less salt or sodium.
Read the labels on canned and prepared foods. Look for any form of salt or sodium. Baking soda, MSG, and baking powder have sodium, too. Don’t eat foods high in salt, such as:
Fast foods and restaurant foods
Ketchup, mustard, pickles, and olives
Soy sauce, steak or barbecue sauce, chili sauce, and Worcestershire sauce
Bottled salad dressings
Bouillon or broth
Self-rising flour and biscuit mixes
Cured meats or fish such as bacon, luncheon meats, and canned sardines
Canned foods such as vegetables and soups
Salty cheeses and buttermilk
Salted nuts and peanut butter
Salted crackers, chips, popcorn, and pretzels
Salted margarine or butter
Instant cooked cereals
Boxed meals and frozen meals
You can get many of these foods with no or low salt. Read the labels.
Take care of yourself
Ask your healthcare provider before you try salt substitutes. Many salt substitutes have potassium. You may need to watch how much potassium you use.
Eat fresh foods as much as you can. Also, plain frozen fruits and vegetables usually do not have added salt.
Instead of salt, there are many kinds of things you can use to flavor your foods. Try herbs, spices, onions, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, lemon or lime juice, or wine. Avoid spice blends that include salt, such as garlic salt.
Take time to plan and enjoy your meals. Food can taste good and help you stay healthy.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2013-04-04 Last reviewed: 2014-03-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Eating Foods Low in Salt: Brief Version: References
Nutrition, An Applied Approach, 3rd ed.Â Â Janice Thompson, Melinda Manore.Â Pearson Benjamin Cummings.Â 2012
Nutrition for the Older Adult, Melissa Bernstein, Ann Schmidt Luggen.Â Jones and Bartlett. 2010.
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010.