Choosing Low Sodium Foods

Managing your sodium intake is an important part of looking after your health—especially if you’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The recommended daily sodium intake for adults is 2300 mg/day—which is a little less than a teaspoon of table salt. However, the average American gets much more than that, about 3400 mg/day. 

If you’re living with kidney disease, too much sodium in your diet can cause further health issues. With CKD, the recommended daily amount is lower than average, usually less than 2000 mg. Following a low sodium diet can help you manage your health and protect your kidneys. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much sodium you should consume per day. 

Why do I need a low sodium diet? 

When your body has too much sodium, it may start to retain fluid. Excess fluid makes your heart work harder and, over time, can lead to heart failure. 

If you're living with CKD, following a low sodium diet is important to your health.

WHAT TO REMEMBER:

Check food labels to make healthier, low sodium food choices. Look for foods with less than 10% Daily Value (DV) of sodium.

Why do people living with CKD need less salt?

While consuming a high sodium diet is something everyone should avoid, people with CKD need to be especially careful because of the extra work it places on the kidneys. Healthy kidneys are able to remove the extra fluid, keeping sodium and fluid balanced. With CKD, your kidneys may not be able to remove the excess fluid, which can cause stress on your body, especially your heart.

Learning all you can about following a low sodium diet and eating well with CKD can help you feel your best and stay your healthiest.

What are some kidney-friendly, low sodium foods to choose?

Fortunately, there are many delicious, naturally low sodium foods to choose from. Work with your doctor or dietitian to determine your sodium goal and check food labels for sodium content. Look for foods with less than 10% of the recommended daily value per serving. Low sodium foods include:

Fresh or frozen fruits

Fresh or frozen vegetables without sauce

Whole grain rice or pasta

Canned beans, rinsed or with no sodium added

Beef, pork, chicken and turkey with no added seasonings or brines

Fresh or frozen fish

Eggs

LEARN HOW TO FLAVOR YOUR FOOD WITHOUT SALT

Avoiding sodium doesn’t have to mean bland food. Find tasty ways to pump up the flavor of your foods without adding sodium.

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How can I spot and avoid excess sodium?

Many foods are specifically labeled as sodium–free or low sodium. This can be helpful when buying foods like canned vegetables and juices. Just know that it’s possible for foods to have less sodium than normal and still contain more than you need, so read food labels and keep your sodium goal in mind. Here are some other tips for choosing foods on a low sodium diet.

  • Look for canned foods that say "No salt added" or something similar—this can make the difference between a serving of beans containing 22% vs 4% of your sodium daily value.
  • Rinse canned foods like beans, to be extra safe—this can reduce sodium by up to 23%.
  • Look for low-sodium juices and beverages—there may be hidden sodium in foods you don't think of as "salty."
  • Look for chicken and other meats without brine—skipping the brine can save over 10% of the recommended daily value of salt per serving.
  • Look for unsalted butter and for margarine that has no trans fats—unsalted butter can remove 4%of the sodium daily value per tablespoon.
  • Avoid packaged foods if you can—and if you can't, compare brands to find the option with the least amount of sodium.
  • Go by labels, not taste—some higher-sodium foods, like cottage cheese, may not taste salty to you.
  • Explore salt-free seasonings—like garlic, cumin, turmeric and sage.
  • Cook at home—you can have a lot more control over how much salt goes into your food if you're seasoning it yourself.

LEARN THE  LOW SODIUM LANGUAGE

When you’re choosing low salt foods, knowing what words to look for can help you make wise choices. Learn more about sodium recommendations.

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