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Reduce Salt and Sodium in Your Diet

Reduce Salt and Sodium in Your Diet

Salt shakersSodium Recommendations

Healthy American adults should reduce their sodium intake to no more than 2400 milligrams per day. This is about 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt). To illustrate, the following are sodium equivalents in the diet.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1200 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1800 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2400 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000 mg sodium
What are the common sources of sodium?

Watch for both natural and added sodium content. Ordinary table salt is sodium chloride — 40 percent sodium by weight. Read the labels when you buy prepared and packaged foods. Watch for the words "soda" (soda refers to sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda) and "sodium" and the symbol "Na" on labels. These products contain sodium compounds.

Some drugs contain large amounts of sodium. Make a habit of carefully reading the ingredient list on the label of all over-the-counter drugs and the warning statement to see if sodium is in the product. A statement of sodium content must appear on labels of antacids containing 5 mg or more per dosage unit (tablet, teaspoon, etc.). Some companies now make low-sodium over-the-counter products.

Most spices contain sodium in very small amounts.

What foods help reduce sodium in the diet?


  • Choose fresh, frozen or canned food items without added salts.
  • Select unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils.
  • Avoid adding salt and canned vegetables to homemade dishes.
  • Select unsalted, fat-free broths, bouillons or soups.
  • Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat milk; low-sodium, low-fat cheeses; and low-fat yogurt.
  • When dining out, be specific about what you want and how you want it prepared. Ask for your dish to be prepared without salt.
  • Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food.
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