A guide to choosing low-sodium foods

Always read food labels for serving size and sodium content.

Food Group Use Limit (2 to 3 times a week) Eat less
Dairy
  • yogurt, fat-free or low-fat plain, Greek or fruit-flavored
  • low-sodium cheese
  • dry powdered milk
  • liquid milk
  • buttermilk
  • cottage cheese
  • natural cheese (cheddar, colby, etc.)
  • instant beverage mixes with more than 200 mg sodium per serving
  • processed cheese such as American
  • cheese spreads
  • soft cheese such as brie, blue, Roquefort
Protein
  • no-salt-added fresh or frozen fish, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, veal
  • low-sodium tuna
  • eggs
  • unsalted nuts
  • reduced-sodium processed meats and cheeses
  • low-sodium bacon
  • canned meat and fish
  • processed meats: ham, sausage, cold cuts, bacon, luncheon meats, hot dogs, jerky, smoked/cured meats
  • pickled herring
  • salted nuts
  • anchovies, herring, sardines
Vegetables and fruits
  • fresh or frozen unsalted vegetables
  • no-salt-added or low-sodium canned vegetables or tomato products
  • dried beans, peas, lentils
  • all fruits 
  • sauerkraut
  • vegetables or potatoes with sauces or seasoning mixes
  • pickled vegetables
  • olives
  • canned vegetables and tomato products with salt 
Grains
  • saltines with unsalted tops
  • Melba toast, rolls, unsalted bread sticks
  • homemade pancakes and waffles (no salt added)
  • potatoes, rice, pasta
  • unsalted pretzels or popcorn
  • low-sodium chips and crackers
  • potatoes, rice or noodles made without salt
  • baking powder biscuits
  • English muffins
  • bran cereals
  • graham crackers
  • breads and cereals with more than 180 mg sodium per serving
  • box mixes: stuffing, rice, pancakes, biscuits, casseroles, potatoes and noodles
  • salted crackers
  • salted snack food: potato chips, pretzels, popcorn
  • instant cooked cereals
  • commercially prepared refrigerated dough 
Combination foods
  • homemade combination foods and soups with less or
    no salt
  • commercial low-sodium soups
  • TV dinners with less than 600 mg sodium per serving
  • reduced-sodium soups 
  • canned or frozen chow mein
  • frozen pot pies
  • canned stew, casseroles
  • prepared baked beans
  • TV dinners with more than 600 mg sodium per serving
  • canned and dried soups
  • bouillon
Desserts
  • fruit
  • sherbet and fruit ice
  • plain cake or meringue
  • ice cream and frozen yogurt
  • jams, jellies, honey
  • homemade desserts, cooked puddings and boxed mixes with less than 200 mg sodium per serving

Limit to one sodium-containing dessert each day:

  • baked desserts made from commercial mixes
  • commercially prepared cookies
  • instant puddings
  • desserts and candies made with salted nut
  • cream and fruit pies
 
Beverages
  • sparkling water
  • fruit juices or drinks, lemonade, coffee, tea, pop
  • beverages with less than 70 mg sodium per serving
  • club soda
  • commercial sports drinks such as Gatorade®, Instant Preplay® or Take Five®
  • softened water
  • cocktail beverage mixes
  • instant cocoa
Other
  • oil, vinegar, lemon juice
  • fresh or powdered onion or garlic
  • salt-free herbs and spice mixes
  • flavoring extracts
  • homemade gravy with less or no salt
  • salt-free bouillon or broth
  • unsalted ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce
  • salt-free nuts and seeds
  • table wine (not cooking wine)
  • homemade salad dressings
  • ketchup and mustard
  • tartar sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • barbeque sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • steak sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • commercial salsa (1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • prepared horseradish
  • regular and low-calorie salad dressing
  • salted margarine and mayonnaise (1 tablespoon)
  • all pickles, olives
  • seasoned salts
  • MSG
  • soy sauce
  • tenderizers
  • commercial gravy mixes
  • light-salt products
  • cooking wine
  • salted nuts and seeds

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, fifth edition
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/10/2015