Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by Kassel K

Here's Why:


Eating high salt foods can increase blood pressure in some people. This also means that lowering the amount of salt they eat could lower blood pressure. It can play a part in high blood pressure treatment. Lower salt plus a diet plan called DASH may be all that is needed to keep blood pressure under control.

It is not easy to tell who will react to salt in this way. It is also hard to know how much salt is safe for each person. A doctor can help you set a salt goal based on your health.

Here's How:

Salt often comes from prepared and processed foods. It may also be called sodium on food labels. Knowing where salt can hide is the first step to lower how much salt you eat.

Major Food Sources

Common high salt foods are:

  • Beef broth
  • Ketchup
  • Canned soups
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Potato chips
  • Salted snack foods
  • Sandwich meats
  • Sauces
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tomato-based sauces, soups, or drinks

Salt can also be found in:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meats
  • Milk products
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Shellfish
  • Soft water

Reading Food Labels

Sodium is listed on all food labels. The package may also have one of these terms:

Food label term Meaning
Sodium free Less than 5 mg/serving
Very low sodium 35 mg or less/serving
Low sodium 140 mg or less/serving
Reduced sodium 25% reduction in sodium content from original product
Unsalted, no salt added, without added salt Processed without salt when salt normally would be used in processing

Be careful to check the number of servings. A serving may be low in sodium, but a package may have several servings.

Tips for Lowering Your Sodium Intake

Other steps to help lower amount of salt are:

  • Cut down on salt step by step instead of all at once. Your taste buds will get used to less salt.
  • Taste your food before you salt it. It may not need more salt.
  • Try other ways to flavor your food. Garlic, oregano, lemon or lime juice, or other herbs may help.
  • Choose fresh foods instead of processed or prepared foods. For example, select fresh or frozen vegetables instead of those canned with salt.
  • Look for lower sodium versions of your favorite foods
  • Cook and eat at home. Check recipes. Some parts of the recipe such as canned soup or vegetables already have salt. You may not need to add more salt.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes already have salt.
  • When dining out, order a low-salt meal. You could also ask the chef not to add salt to your meal.
  • Limit your use of condiments. Soy sauce, dill pickles, salad dressings, and packaged sauces have a lot of salt.


American Heart Association 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 


Dietitians of Canada 

Health Canada 


About sodium (salt). American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated August 26, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.

DASH diet. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated January 15, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2018.

Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. Available at: Updated December 2015. Accessed October 1, 2018.

Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated September 12, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2018.

Salt. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated December 28, 2016. Accessed October 1, 2018.

Sodium and salt. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated October 3, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.

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