Tip

"Reduced" sodium means 25 percent less sodium than the original product and may not actually be low in sodium.

For example, regular Butterball® chicken broth has 980 mg of sodium in one cup. Reduced-sodium Butterball® chicken broth has 620 mg of sodium in one cup. This amount is still too much sodium for one serving.

Did you know?

Within 1 to 3 months of limiting salt, cravings will lessen and even disappear.

Ways to reduce sodium in your diet

  • Remove the salt shaker. Do not have it in the kitchen when you cook or on the table when you eat.
  • Beware of commercially prepared salt substitutes.
    • Most salt substitutes are made of potassium chloride.
    • Your health care provider must OK the use of a salt substitute because it can interfere with the action of some medicines or medical conditions.
    • Using a salt substitute does not allow you to wean yourself from the craving for salt.
  • Eliminate salt in your cooking.
  • Eliminate obviously salty foods. These include:
    • flavored or seasoned salts
    • pickles
    • olives and sauerkraut packaged in salt brine
    • processed or cured meats such as ham, sausage, deli meats, hot dogs and jerky
    • canned soups
    • salted snacks
  • Try new seasonings.
    • Herbs and spices do not contain sodium.
    • Check labels to make sure they do not contain salt or sodium.
    • You may use flavored vinegar, sherry, wine and lemon juice for flavoring.
  • Learn to read food labels.
    • Figure out one serving size.
    • Compare one serving size to the amount you eat.
    • Figure out how much sodium the product contains for your serving size.
    • Low sodium is 140 milligrams or fewer per serving. Beware of 400 to 600 milligrams (or more) of sodium per serving.
    • Beware of ingredients that contain sodium such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate and sodium bicarbonate.
  • Consider smaller portions to keep meal sodium amounts to less than 600 mg.
  • Make a spice blend recipe. OK, so you're ready to throw out the salt - but save the shaker! Fill it with this spice blend and use it on home-cooked meals:
    • 4 tablespoons dry mustard
    • 1 tablespoons garlic powder
    • 4 tablespoons onion powder
    • 2 tablespoons white pepper
    • 1 tablespoon thyme
    • 1 teaspoon basil
    • 4 tablespoons paprika
      Combine the spices and blend them well. Put a small amount of rice in the bottom of your shaker to allow the spice blend to flow easily. Fill the shaker with the spice blend, using a funnel. Label and store.
  • Make an herb blend recipe. This blend of herbs and spices is good on meats and vegetables.
    • 1 teaspoon each:
      • dried basil
      • dried marjoram
      • thyme
      • dried oregano
      • dried parsley
      • ground cloves
      • ground mace
      • black pepper
      • dried savory
    • ¼ teaspoon each:
      • ground nutmeg
      • cayenne
        Vary the amounts to suit your taste. Fill the shaker with the spice blend, using a funnel. Label and store.

Herb and spice suggestions

Try these flavor ideas for meats and vegetables:

  • beef: bay leaf, curry, dry mustard, sage, marjoram, mushrooms, nutmeg, onion, pepper, thyme
  • lamb: curry, garlic, mint, pineapple, rosemary
  • pork: apples, applesauce, garlic, onion, sage, peaches
  • veal: apricots, bay leaf, curry, ginger, marjoram, oregano
  • fish: bay leaf, lemon juice, marjoram, mushrooms, paprika
  • chicken: cranberries, paprika, thyme, sage
  • asparagus: lemon juice
  • corn: green pepper, tomato
  • green beans: marjoram, lemon juice, nutmeg, dill weed, unsalted french dressing
  • peas: onion, mint, mushrooms, green pepper
  • potatoes: onion, mace, green pepper
  • squash: ginger, mace, onion, cinnamon
  • tomatoes: basil, marjoram, onion

Related resources

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, fifth edition, 1-931876-31-2
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/10/2015