A low sodium diet is a diet that includes no more than 1,500 to 2,400 mg of sodium per day. (One teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg sodium). People who follow a vigorous or moderate exercise schedule are usually advised to limit their sodium intake to 3,000 mg per day and those with moderate to severe heart failure are usually advised to limit their sodium intake to 2,000 mg per day. For certain people with salt-sensitive blood pressure, extra intake may cause a negative effect on health.
While sodium occurs naturally in most foods, it is also added to various food products in various forms. These are ingredients in condiments and seasonings such as worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, and bouillon cubes. Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and ham, and canned soups and vegetables are all examples of foods that contain added sodium. Fast foods are generally very high in sodium. Also, processed foods such as potato chips, frozen dinners and cured meats have high sodium content.
However, unprocessed food such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish and unprocessed grains are low sodium. Luckily the availability of low sodium foods is increasing.
Other foods that are low in sodium include:
- Seasonings: Black, cayenne, or lemon pepper, mustard, some chili or hot sauces
- Herbs: Dried or fresh garlic, garlic/onion powder (no salt), dill, parsley, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, oregano, ginger, vinegar, cumin, nutmeg
- Fresh fruits & vegetables: Celery, carrots, beets, spinach
- Dried beans, peas, rice, lentils
- Rice, pasta, noodles, barley (cooked in unsalted water)
- Honey, sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Fresh beef, pork, lamb, fish, shrimp, egg
- Skim milk, yogurt
- Hot cereals
- Club soda, coffee, seltzer water, soy milk, tea