Simple Strategies to Decrease Sodium
Sodium is an essential nutrient found in many foods. Our bodies need only a small amount of
sodium to be healthy and too much can lead to high blood pressure- a major risk factor for
stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Nutrient recommendations state that individuals aged 14
and over should consume no more than 2300 mg sodium per day. A sodium intake above 2300
mg per day is likely to pose a health risk. The following tips can help you reduce your daily
- Reading the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods can help you identify the amount of
sodium per serving. Compare labels and chose products lowest in sodium and don’t
forget to check the number of servings per container.
- When shopping, look for foods that contain less than 360mg of sodium per serving
and for products with a sodium content of less than 15% Daily Value (DV). Buy
lower sodium foods to prepare healthier meals at home.
- Know what common foods are higher in sodium such as canned/packaged items,
convenience items, processed meats, cheese, jarred foods preserved in salt, and salted
snack foods and try to minimize how much and how often you consume them.
- Choose fresh and frozen poultry that hasn’t been injected with a sodium solution.
Check the fine print on the packaging for terms like broth, saline or sodium
solution as well as pick unseasoned meats.
- When choosing condiments such as dips, dressings, sauces, salsas and others, look
for a reduced or a lower-sodium version.
- Try to eat more fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit; when buying, canned vegetables
purchase those labeled with “no added salt.”
- Don’t forget to drain and rinse canned beans and vegetables as it can decrease the sodium
content by up to 40%.
- Taste your food before adding salt. If you think it needs a boost of flavor, add
freshly ground black pepper or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and test it again
before adding salt.
- Use herbs, onions, spices, citrus juices and vinegars in place of some or all the salt to add
flavour to different foods.
- Reduce the amount of salt you add while cooking, baking, or at the table. Prepare
your own meals often, using little or no salt.
- If you don’t like the taste of lower sodium foods try combining them in equal parts with a
regular version of the same food. You will get less salt and probably won’t notice much
difference in taste.
- When eating at a restaurant, ask for nutrient information for the menu items and
select meals lower in sodium.
- Control your portion sizes. When you cut calories, you usually cut the sodium too.
By making healthier choices when grocery shopping, cooking at home and eating out, you can
help lower the amount of sodium you and your family eats while lowering the risk of health
conditions linked to high sodium intakes.
Written by Hilary Rock BSc, Nutrition
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
Resources: Eat Right Ontario, Health Canada, Heart and Stroke, American Heart Association