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What do low-sodium or sodium-free food labels mean?

  • Low-sodium foods contain 140 milligrams or less of ­sodium per serving and per 100 grams of food. Ordinary table salt (sodium chloride) is not the only source of ­sodium. It is also found in monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium nitrate and occurs naturally in some foods.
  • Very low sodium means that a food contains 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving and per 100 grams of food.
  • Sodium free or salt free items have less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
  • Light in salt means that the food has 50% less ­sodium than the regular version.  
If you are looking to reduce your sodium intake, it's very important to understand the terms used on food labels, including low-sodium and sodium-free.
  • Sodium free: a very small amount of sodium per serving
  • Very low sodium: 35 milligrams (mg) or less per serving
  • Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
  • Reduced sodium: foods in which the level of sodium is reduced by 25%
  • Light or lite in sodium: foods in which the sodium is reduced by at least 50%
A simple rule of thumb: If salt is listed in the first five ingredients, the item is probably too high in sodium to use.

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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.