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Sodium Controlled Diet


A Sodium Controlled Diet (Low-Salt diet) has been prescribed for you as medically necessary to improve your health. Sodium is a nutrient that is important to good health. It is found in most foods, and it is also added in the form of table salt, preservatives, and flavor enhancers to foods that we eat.


In addition to sodium, fluid, protein, and/or potassium may need to be controlled depending on your diet prescription. A weight loss or weight management meal plan may deed to be combined with other restrictions. A Sodium Controlled diet is usually adequate in all nutrients needed for good health. The dietitian will make recommendations to supplement your intake with specific vitamins or minerals, is necessary.

dietary guidelines for sodium restricted diets

  • Be aware that some medications are high in sodium. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist for information. Be sure to inform your physician about over-the-counter medication that you are using.

sodium content in over-the-counter medications

Examples Sodium (mg) Dosage
Alka-Seltzer (blue) 1,040 2 tablets
Alka-Seltzer (gold) 552 2 tablets
Di-Gel 21 2 tablets
Gelucil 18 2 tablets
Maalox 8 1 Tbsp
Milk of Magnesia (Phillip) 3 2 Tbsp
Mylanta II 24 1 Tbsp
Rolaids 106 2 tablets
Tums 6 2 tablets
Vicks cough syrup 54 5 ml
Vicks Formula 44 Syrup 68 5 ml

Information about sodium is found on the food label.

terms used on food labels

  • SODIUM FREE (no sodium) = less than 5mg of sodium per serving.
  • VERY LOW SODIUM = 35mg or less of sodium per serving.
  • LOW SODIUM = 140mg or less of sodium per serving.
  • REDUCED SODIUM = 25% less sodium than the original version of the product.
  • NO ADDED SALT or UNSALTED = no salt is added during processing (but this does not guarantee the food product is low in sodium).

Fifty (50%) percent of the sodium we eat is added to packaged and processed foods as preservative, flavor enhancer, stabilizer, etc.

READ FOOD LABELS! Look for milligrams (mg) of sodium (Na) per serving

Although ingredients are listed in order of decreasing amounts, sodium listed as a last ingredient does not guarantee a low-sodium product. Be aware of non-traditional seasonings that may be high in sodium (i.e. 1 teaspoon of sea salt contains 1716 mg of sodium).

Sources of Sodium Used in
Salt (sodium chloride) Cooking; at the table; canning; food processing
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) Home and restaurant cooking, canned foods, frozen foods, Oriental foods; frozen dinners
Baking Powder Quick breads, cakes, pastries, cookies
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) Breads and cakes; ”alkalizer” for indigestion
Brine (table salt plus water) Corned beef, pickles, sauerkraut
Sodium Propionate Pasteurized cheeses; some breads and cakes to inhibit mold growth
Di-sodium phosphate Quick cooking cereal and processed cheeses
Sodium alginate Chocolate milk; ice cream
Sodium benzoate Relishes, sauces, salad dressings
Sodium hydroxide Ripe olives, hominy; some processed fruits and vegetables; Dutch processed cocoa and chocolate; pretzels
Sodium nitrate Cured meats
Sodium sulfite Maraschino cherries, glazed or crystallized fruit, dried fruit
Sodium caseinate Ice cream, frozen custard, ice milk, sherbet
Sodium citrate Gelatin desserts, beverages
Sodium pectinate Syrups for frozen products, ice cream, fruit sherbet, salad dressing, fruit jelly
Sodium saccharin Soft drinks, artificial sweeteners


  • Salt substitutes are widely available. They include potassium chloride, ammonium chloride, citrates, formats, glutamates, chlorine salts, and blended herb seasonings. These products are sodium free. However, salt substitutes may contain nutrients (such as potassium) that are restricted by your diet prescription. Talk to your physician before using any salt substitute. Salt substitutes supply 390-507 mg potassium per gram. An average teaspoon (5gm) contains 1950-2535 mg potassium.
  • When using wine in cooking, do not use “cooking” wine because it contains sodium.
  • Reduce salt in cooking and in recipes by half the amount. Gradually omit salt completely except in baking recipes, and use spices and herbs to season.
  • Start with fresh or frozen foods (rather than canned, processed, cured, or smoked, which have sodium added. You control the seasonings added to the food.
  • Avoid canned or bottled sauces, BBQ, soy, steak, chili, tomato, salad dressings, etc. Make your own sauces without salt.
  • Instead of using prepared foods, eat homemade foods or low sodium versions-such as cornbread, baked goods, pizza, spaghetti sauce. Commercially processed and packaged foods generally contain sodium. Most fast foods and frozen dinners are high in sodium.
  • At the table, taste your food before adding salt.
  • Use a shaker with small holes only, or cover all but one hole with scotch tape.
  • Add toasted sesame seeds to rice, chicken, fish, salads, etc., instead of salt.
  • Hot pepper sauce, Angostura, Tabasco, Kitchen bouquet, and some sodium reduced products are approved for use.
  • When eating out in restaurants, ask your server to have food prepared without added salt. Do not salt food at the table.
  • Use pure herbs and spices instead of seasoned salts-i.e., garlic powder instead of garlic salt, onion powder instead of onion salt, etc. Create your own blends (see sample recipes below), and substitute them for your “salt shaker.”

salt-free seasoning alternatives

Salt-free Season-All (mix for meat and vegetables)
1tsp each: basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, parsley, savory, mace, ground cloves, and black pepper, plus ½ tsp nutmeg and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper.

Salt-free Herb Blend I
1 tsp each: basil, dried marjoram, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried parsley, dried savory, ground cloves, ground mace, black pepper, plus ½ tsp each: ground nutmeg and cayenne pepper.

Salt-free Herb Blend II
1tsp dill weed or basil, ¼ grated dried lemon peel, 1 tsp oregano leaves, 2 Tbsp onion powder, 1tsp crushed celery seed, dash of black pepper.

Spicy Flavor Blend
Salt-free 2 Tbsp crushed savory, 1 Tbsp mustard powder, 2 ½ tsp onion powder, 1 ¼ tsp white pepper, 1 ½ tsp curry powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 ¼ tsp cumin.

Salt-free All-Purpose Spice Blend
5 tsp onion powder, 1, 2 ½ tsp garlic powder, 2 ½ tsp paprika, 2 ½ mustard powder, 1 ¼ tsp thyme, ½ ground white pepper, ¼ tsp celery seed.

sodium free seasonings

You may use any amount of the following seasonings, unless you have been restricted for other reasons.

Cayenne pepper
Chili powder 
Bay leaf 
Caraway seeds 
Extracts (almond, lemon, peppermint, vanilla, walnut ) 
Cocoa, dry (not Dutch or instant mix) 
Curry powder
Mustard, dry 
Horseradish (fresh) 
Onion Juice

Onion powder 
Poultry seasoning
Garlic, fresh 
Garlic powder 
Sesame seeds 
Poppy seed 
Cardamom seed 
Capers, unsalted

2000 mg sodium diet

Food Group Foods Included Foods Not Included
Beverages Milk, (limit to 1 cup daily), buttermilk (limit to 1 cup/week); eggnog; all fruit juices; low-sodium, salt-free vegetable juices; low-sodium, carbonated beverages. Malted milk, milkshake, chocolate milk; regular vegetable or tomato juices; commercially softened water used for drinking or cooking
Meat and meat substitutes Any fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, and shrimp; canned tuna or salmon, rinsed; eggs and egg substitutes, low-sodium cheese including low-sodium ricotta, and cream cheese; low sodium cottage cheese, yogurt; low-sodium peanut butter; dried peas and beans, frozen dinners (less than 500 mg sodium) Any smoked, cured, salted koshered or canned meat, fish or poultry including bacon, chipped beef, cold cuts, ham, hot dogs, sausage, sardines, and anchovies; crab, lobster, imitation seafood, marinated herring, and pickled meats; frozen breaded meats; pickled eggs; regular hard and processed cheese, cheese spreads and sauces; salted nuts
Breads and Cereals Enriched white, wheat, rye and pumpernickel bread; hard rolls and dinner rolls; muffins, cornbread and waffles; most dry cereals, cooked cereals w/o salt added salt; unsalted crackers and breadsticks; low-sodium or homemade bread crumbs. Breads, rolls, and crackers w/salted tops; quick breads; instant hot cereals; pancakes; commercial bread stuffing; self-rising flour and biscuit mixes; regular breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs
Vegetables Fresh, frozen vegetables and low-sodium canned vegetables Regular canned vegetable, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, and others prepared in brine; frozen vegetables in sauces; vegetables seasoned w/ham, bacon, or salt pork
Fruits Most fresh, frozen and canned fruits Fruits processed w/salt or sodium-containing compounds (i.e. some dried fruits)
Fats Butter or margarine; vegetable oils; unsalted salad dressings, regular salad dressings limited to 1 tbsp; light, sour, and heavy cream Regular salad dressings containing bacon fat, bacon bits, and salt pork; snack dips made with instant soup mixes or processed cheese
Sweets and Desserts All desserts and sweets made with milk should be within allowance Instant pudding mixes and cake mixes
Potatoes and potato substitutes White or sweet potatoes; squash; enriched rice, barley, noodles; spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas cooked w/out salt; homemade bread stuffing Commercially prepared potato; rice, or pasta mixes; commercial bread stuffing
Soups Low-sodium commercially canned and dehydrated soups; broth, and bouillons; homemade broth and soups w/o added salt and make w/allowed vegetables; cream soups w/in milk allowance Regular conned or dehydrated soups, broths or bouillon
Miscellaneous Salt substitute w/physicians’ approval; pepper, herbs, spices; vinegar, lemon or lime juice; hot pepper sauce; low-sodium soy sauce (1 tbsp); low-sodium condiments (ketchup, chili sauce, mustard) in limited amount (1tsp); fresh ground horseradish; unsalted tortilla chips, pretzels, potato chips, popcorn, salsa (1/4 cup) Any seasoning made w/salt including garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, and seasoned salt, sea salt, rock salt, kosher salt; meat tenderizers; monosodium glutamate; regular soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and most flavored vinegars; canned gravy and mixes; regular condiments; salted snack foods, olives


Orange juice (1/2 cup)
Whole grain cereal (3/4 cup)
Banana (1/2)
Whole-wheat toast (2 slices)
Margarine (2 tsp)
Jelly or jam (1 tsp)
2% milk (1 cup)


Low-sodium vegetable soup (1 cup)
Unsalted crackers (4)
Lean beef patty (3 oz)
Hamburger bun (1)
Mustard (1 tsp)
Mayonnaise (2 tsp)
Sliced tomato (2 oz)
Fresh fruit salad (1/2)
Graham crackers (2)
2% Milk (1 cup) / Coffee/tea


Green salad (3/12 oz)
Vinegar and oil dressing (1tbsp)
Broiled skinless chicken breast (3 oz)
Herbed brown rice (1/2 cup)
Steamed broccoli (1/2 cup)
Whole-grain roll (1)
Margarine (2 tsp) 
Fruit sorbet (1/2) 
Medium apple (1)