Cheat Sheet for Low-Sodium Cooking

Here are some quick, easy tips to lower sodium intake in your daily diet.

A brightly-colored salad is ready to enjoy; this can be a delicious, low-sodium food to eat if you're reducing sodium intake.

Medically reviewed in June 2018

Updated on March 1, 2021

Follow this quick checklist of sodium-slashing food-prep ideas every time you make a meal and you could be enjoying better blood pressure before you know it. These tips to lower sodium intake are based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the National Institutes of Health; and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 

Step 1: Read, read, read. 
Check all labels before food preparation so you know how much sodium you're starting with. 

  • Try to stay below the RealAge-recommended limit of 1,500 milligrams per day. 
  • Always buy the low-sodium versions of prepackaged, frozen, canned or jarred foods and sauces. 
  • Opt for fresh veggies over canned. 
  • Make things from scratch when you can, to control the sodium content. 

Step 2: Reduce, reduce, reduce. 
How many ways can you cut the sodium from your food? 

  • Rinse canned foods before using. 
  • Don't add salt to the water when you boil pasta or rice. 
  • Ditch the flavor packets that come with instant or prepared foods and do your own seasoning. 
  • Choose fresh whole cuts of meat or fish over processed, pressed, cured or canned. 

Step 3: Season, season, season. 
Get creative with fresh flavors so you won't feel tempted to grab the saltshaker. 

  • Choose fresh herbs and salt-free spices instead of salt. 
  • Use herb- or citrus-infused oils, avocado mash or malt or cider vinegars instead of salty condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup and soy sauce. 
  • Try oil with red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of salty salad dressings. 
  • Season lean animal protein and veggies with onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, and other fresh, savory flavors. 
  • Stuff fresh, crunchy veggies into sandwiches or wraps, instead of pickles or olives.

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