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Decreasing Your Salt Intake
Eating high-salt foods can raise blood pressure in some people. This also means that lowering the amount of salt that is eaten can lower blood pressure. This can play a part in high blood pressure treatment. Lower salt plus the DASH diet plan may be all that is needed to keep blood pressure under control.
It is not easy to tell who will react to salt in this way. It is also hard to know how much salt is safe for each person. A doctor can help you set a salt goal based on your health.
Salt comes from prepared and processed foods. It may also be called sodium on food labels. Knowing where salt can hide is the first step to lower how much salt you eat.
Major Food Sources
Common high salt foods are:
- Beef broth
- Canned soups
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Salted snack foods
- Sandwich meats
- Tomato-based sauces, soups, or drinks
Salt can also be found in:
- Milk products
- Chicken and turkey
- Soft water
Reading Food Labels
Sodium is listed on all food labels. The package may also have one of these terms:
|Food label term||Meaning|
|Sodium free||Less than 5 mg/serving|
|Very low sodium||35 mg or less/serving|
|Low sodium||140 mg or less/serving|
|Reduced sodium||25% reduction in sodium content from original product|
|Unsalted, no salt added, without added salt||Processed without salt when salt normally would be used in processing|
Keep in mind that a serving may be low in sodium, but a package may have several servings.
Tips to Lower Your Sodium Intake
Other tips to lower your intake are:
- Cut down slowly instead of all at once. Your taste buds will get used to less salt.
- Taste your food before you salt it. It may not need more salt.
- Try other ways to flavor your food. Garlic, oregano, lemon or lime juice, or other herbs may help.
- Choose fresh foods instead of processed or prepared foods. For example, select fresh or frozen vegetables instead of those that are canned with salt.
- Look for lower sodium versions of your favorite foods.
- Cook and eat at home. Check recipes. Some items in a recipe may already have salt. You may not need to add more.
- Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes already have salt.
- Order low-salt meals when eating out. You could also ask the chef not to add salt to your meal.
- Limit your use of condiments. Soy sauce, dill pickles, salad dressings, and packaged sauces have a lot of salt.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Dietitians of Canada
DASH diet. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/dash-diet. Updated January 15, 2018. Accessed February 4, 2020.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. Available at: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed February 4, 2020.
Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypertension. Updated October 3, 2019. Accessed February 4, 2020.
Salt. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm. Updated July 11, 2019. Accessed February 4, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 11/2019
- Update Date: 02/02/2021