Limit Sodium (Salt)

Limit Sodium (Salt) to Lower Blood Pressure

Salt ShakerToo much sodium (salt) raises blood pressure.

  • Sodium in food can cause your body to hold onto extra water, even if you do not see any puffiness or swelling in your arms or legs.
  • The extra water and sodium strains your heart and raises your blood pressure.

Try to limit your sodium (salt) to no more than 2,000 mg per day.

  • This is less than one teaspoon of salt per day!
  • Not using the salt shaker is a good start.
  • Most of our sodium (salt) is already in the foods we buy.
  • Talk with your healthcare team about your sodium (salt) limit.
Lower Sodium Options on Labels
Sodium free: less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
Reduced sodium: usual sodium level is reduced by 25 percent
Unsalted/no salt added/without added salt: while no salt is added in processing, the food still contains its natural level of sodium

Tips to avoid hidden sodium in foods:

  • Read food labels. Choose “low” or “no” sodium.
  • Avoid added sodium (salt) in your poultry, fish, or meat. Avoid terms like “seasoned,” “saline solution,” or “broth” on the packaging.
  • Don’t forget about sodium in condiments (examples: ketchup, soy sauce, olives, salad dressings). Buy the “low-sodium” versions.
  • Be careful when eating out. Restaurant and fast foods are high in salt. Ask for your meal to be prepared without added salt. Avoid or limit soups and sauces.
  • Choose pepper or spice blends instead of salt shakers.
See also  Limit Alcohol

Careful with salt substitutes: Some are high in potassium and may be harmful to those with kidney disease, on certain medications, and/or with other health conditions. Talk with your healthcare provider about salt substitutes.

Lower Sodium Meal Plan: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

The DASH Eating Plan was designed to lower blood pressure.

It focuses on lower sodium (salt), more fruits and vegetables (4-5 servings of EACH per day), and proteins that are low in saturated fat.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has created an easy to follow Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH. Click the link to check it out!


Servings per day for a 2000 calorie diet

Serving size examples

Whole Grains


  • 1 slice bread
  • ½ cup cooked grain



  • 1 cup raw leafy vegetable
  • ½ cup raw or cooked vegetable



  • ½ cup or 1 medium fruit
  • ¼ cup dried fruit

Nuts and seeds


  • ⅓ cup nuts
  • 2 Tbsp nut butter
  • ½ oz of seeds

Lean meat, poultry or fish


  • 1 oz meat, chicken, or fish
  • 1 egg

Fats and oils


  • 1 tsp vegetable oil or spread
  • 2 Tbsp salad dressing

Low fat dairy


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 oz cheese

Added sugars

5 or fewer per week

  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup soda
  • ½ cup sorbet

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