Consuming too much salt (sodium) increases your risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, cataracts, brittle bones, asthma, dementia and early death. Over time, elevated blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in your eyes and kidneys and put you at greater risk for heart disease. It is recommended that you try to limit your intake of sodium to 2300 milligrams (mg) per day to help keep your blood pressure around 130/80 mm/Hg or less.
How much sodium is recommended?
• 2300 mg/day for people with diabetes (1 teaspoon)
• 1500-2000 mg/day for people with heart failure, heart disease or high blood pressure
Tips to lower sodium intake:
• Read the food label; choose foods with 400 mg or less per serving
• Choose products that are advertised as “salt-free” or “low sodium” (see below)
• Choose unprocessed or less processed foods. Sodium is often used as a preservative.
• Choose fresh or frozen vegetables over canned
• Do not add salt while cooking
• Use spices that contain no salt or sodium such as garlic powder or Italian seasoning
• Take the salt shaker off the table
• Choose foods without sauces or have sauces put on the side. Sauces are often high in sodium.
Understanding sodium terminology:
Food companies love to advertise their products in ways that make them seem healthier. Sometimes these terms can be misleading. Be an informed consumer so you can purchase products that are right for you!
•Reduced or less sodium: At least 35% less sodium than the original version of the product
• Light (Lite) sodium: At least 50% less sodium than the original version of the product
• Low sodium: 140 mg of sodium (or less) per serving
• Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
• Sodium (salt) free: Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
Many products are labeled as salt substitutes. This means they are not salt-free but are lower in sodium than salt and are made from potassium-based ingredients. Because of the potassium, salt substitutes do not work well with some heart medications. Be sure to check with your doctor before incorporating salt substitutes into your diet.
All herbal seasonings should be checked by reading the food label to confirm they are sodium-free (read the Nutrient Facts label). Here are some sodium-free commercial brands to look for:
• Mrs. Dash salt free seasoning blends
• Benson’s gourmet salt-free seasonings
• McCormick salt-free seasoning blends
Here are a couple salt-free seasoning blends you can make at home:
American Favorite Blend
(Health Education Assoc, Inc)
5 tsp. onion powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T dry mustard
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp celery seeds
Yields: ~ ¼ cup
(Nutrition: The Art of Good Eating)
3 T celery seed
1 T onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 T crushed oregano
1 T crushed thyme
1 ½ tsp ground bay leaf
Yields: ~ ½ cup