What high-sodium foods should I avoid if I have heart failure?

When you eat sodium or salt, your body holds on to water, which can make your heart failure worse. Eating low sodium (low salt) food can make you feel better. A low sodium diet means eating between 2,000 and 3,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. Ask your doctor or nurse what is right for you.

Things you can do:
  • Read food labels for the sodium amounts
  • Choose foods low in sodium
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh meat
  • Fresh fish
Things not to do:
  • Do not put salt on your food
Do not eat:
  • Cheese
  • Deli meat
  • Canned foods
  • Salted snack foods
  • Mixed spices with hidden sodium (salt)
Your doctor, nurse, or dietician can help you choose foods that are low in sodium. They can help you change your favorite meals and recipes to be lower in sodium.
Nasir Z. Sulemanjee, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Foods high in sodium to avoid if you have heart failure include:
  • Cured, smoked, or canned meats including lunch meats and sausage
  • Vegetable or tomato juices
  • Foods with salt toppings such as saltines
  • Cheese, especially processed cheeses
  • Canned vegetables unless low sodium or no salt added
  • Regular canned soup or broth
  • Seasonings/condiments such as soy sauce, steak sauce, mustard, ketchup and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Processed foods such as box mixes of pasta, rice, or stuffing
  • Foods in a salt brine such as sauerkraut, pickles, olives, and salted fish
  • Pizza

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.