Salt is everywhere.
Shake it off.

Americans love salt. Fast food and prepared foods are loaded with it. While these foods are cheap and tasty, when you’ve got chronic kidney disease, salt is not your friend. Why? Because salt is mostly sodium, and your kidneys may have trouble keeping your sodium and water in balance. That can mean feeling thirsty, fluid weight gain, and high blood pressure (HBP).


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America: Land of the Super Saltshakers

The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium a day. The recommended daily allowance is 1,500 mg for adults over 50; all African Americans; or people with CKD, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Tips to toss that salt

Here’s how to cut salt from your diet:

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Cook with herbs and spices for flavor instead of salt. Believe it or not, the less salt you use, the less you will crave. Some people don’t even miss it after a while—or they notice many prepared or restaurant dishes are too salty to enjoy.
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Look at food labels for sodium.
 Some foods may not taste salty, but still contain a lot of salt. 
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Cut back on convenience foods and prepackaged or frozen meals.
 They’re salt central. Again, read the labels.
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Try to avoid fast food,
 but if you decide to indulge on occasion, look at the nutritional information posted inside the restaurant. You can make better choices by checking that out before ordering.
Food labels list sodium


How much is too much salt? For packaged foods, simply look at the label.

If the amount of sodium in milligrams (mg) is more than the number of calories in one serving, it’s too high.

5 spices to use instead of salt

Chili powder

Chili powder
—tastes great in chili or taco meat flavoring. Also try it in rubs.
Smoked paprika

Smoked paprika
—adds a smoky flavor to marinades, gives brown color to breadcrumb casserole toppings and is great for barbecue rubs, or seasoning blends for sautéing or searing proteins. 
Lemon zest

Lemon zest
—adds a lively taste to breadcrumbs, breaded chicken tenders, fish sticks and kidney-friendly vegetables (eggplant, string beans). Lemon zest is also great in dressings, marinades and when added to dry spices for rubs. 
Dried oregano

Dried oregano
—enhances flavor of scampi sauces and combines well with lemon zest. Gives steamed vegetables and tossed salads a fresh, earthy taste and aroma. Add it to fajita seasonings with chili powder, cumin, cayenne and lemon zest.
Italian seasoning
Italian seasoning*—a blend of thyme, oregano and basil is great for finishing off sauces such as a stroganoff or gravies. Works well on baked, grilled or sautéed proteins with lemon zest and a little oil. Add it to lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil to make delicious dressings.

 *Check to be sure you are using a salt-free product.

Salt alternatives (not substitutes!)

There are many salt alternatives, including flavorful spices and seasonings. However, “classic” salt substitutes simply switch out sodium for another mineral, potassium. Unfortunately, that’s also a problem when you have chronic kidney disease. It’s important to steer clear of salt substitutes made with potassium.

Salty foods to watch out for

Learn the reduced-salt lingo

  • Sodium-free—only the tiniest amount of sodium per serving
  • Very-low sodium—35 mg or less per serving
  • Low sodium—140 mg or less per serving
  • Reduced sodium—foods where the level of sodium is reduced by 25%
  • Light or “lite” in sodium—foods where the sodium is reduced by at least 50%

Remember, “reduced” sodium, as well as “light” or “lite in sodium" are relative to their full-sodium counterparts. For example, “lite” soy sauce is better than “regular” soy sauce, but “lite” soy sauce is still high in sodium. Always check the label to see how many milligrams of sodium it contains.


It's best to ask your dietitian since everyone's needs are different.