Low-Sodium Food Swaps

Searching for low-sodium foods at the supermarket can be a time-consuming task. We've gathered 22 low-sodium foods to get you started.

By Marsha McCulloch, M.S., R.D.


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Low-Sodium Food Swaps
1/22

    When you begin a low-sodium diet*, you quickly discover salt (a primary source of sodium) is in a lot of foods you wouldn't have suspected. As you'll find in the following slides, even healthful foods like whole grain bagels and chicken breasts can pack their share of sodium.

    Keep these tips in mind when you're comparing foods to get the least sodium per serving:

    -- Check your favorite brand for a low-sodium option, but if there isn't one, try other brands (including natural food brands).
    -- To qualify for a "low-sodium" claim, a food (or beverage) should have 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.
    -- Compare nutrition labels to ensure you're not getting a lot more calories and fat in exchange for lower sodium.
    -- Even small sodium savings can add up -- especially if you eat more than one serving at a time or eat the food frequently.

    *The daily sodium limit is 1,500 milligrams for people with hypertension, African-Americans, and adults older than 50. The daily sodium limit for healthy adults younger than 50 is 2,300 milligrams a day.

2/22
Pudding

    Although pudding doesn't taste salty, you'll be surprised how much sodium is in the "instant" varieties. The short time you spend preparing "cook & serve" pudding will be repaid to you in sodium savings.

    Higher sodium: Jell-O Instant Pudding & Pie Filling, chocolate. Per serving (1/4 small package, dry):

    -- Calories: 100
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 420 milligrams

    Low sodium: Jell-O Cook & Serve Pudding & Pie Filling, chocolate. Per serving (1/4 small package, dry):

    -- Calories: 90
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 110 milligrams

3/22
Peanut Butter

    When you choose a no-salt-added natural peanut butter, you'll not only cut the sodium, but you'll also skip the preservatives (and often sugar, too), so you can enjoy the flavor of the peanuts.

    Higher sodium: Reduced Fat Jif, Creamy. Per serving (2 Tbsp.):

    -- Calories: 190
    -- Fat: 12 grams
    -- Sodium: 250 milligrams

    Low sodium: Smucker's Natural No Salt Added Creamy Peanut Butter. Per serving (2 Tbsp.):

    -- Calories: 210
    -- Fat: 16 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

4/22
Packaged Soup Mix

    If you're following a strict low-sodium diet, even reduced-sodium soups may supply too much sodium. Instead, try this dry Vegi Soup Mix without added salt -- just add water and your favorite salt-free seasonings and simmer for about an hour.

    Higher sodium: Progresso Soup -- Vegetable Classics, Garden Vegetable. Per serving (1 cup):

    -- Calories: 90
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 940 milligrams

    Low sodium: Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix. Per serving (1/4 cup mix):

    -- Calories: 165
    -- Fat: 1 gram
    -- Sodium: 14 milligrams

5/22
Pasta Sauce

    Heat and serve pasta sauce is quick and convenient but is often high in sodium. Low-sodium varieties are available, but you're more likely to find them at natural food stores.

    Higher sodium: Bertolli Tomato & Basil Spaghetti Sauce. Per serving (1/2 cup):

    -- Calories: 80
    -- Fat: 2 grams
    -- Sodium: 520 milligrams

    Low sodium: Walnut Acres Organic Low Sodium Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce. Per serving (1/2 cup):

    -- Calories: 40 calories
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 20 milligrams

6/22
Chicken Breasts

    A lot of chicken (and pork) is brined (has added salt), which extends freshness and helps the meat stay moist during cooking. To avoid chicken with added salt, check the ingredient listing for salt (or chicken broth), or talk to the supermarket's meat manager.

    Higher sodium: Gold'n Plump Extra Tender Boneless Skinless Split Chicken Breasts. Per serving (4 ounces):

    -- Calories: 110
    -- Fat: 1.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 200 milligrams

    Low sodium: Gold'n Plump All Natural Boneless Skinless Split Chicken Breasts. Per serving (4 ounces):

    -- Calories: 110
    -- Fat: 1 gram
    -- Sodium: 45 milligrams

7/22
Bread

    Salt, which helps control the growth of yeast and contributes to the flavor of bread, is a very helpful ingredient (so salt-free bread is uncommon). Some natural breads may be low in sodium; check for them in the freezer section of the supermarket.

    Higher sodium: Amana 100% Stoneground Whole Wheat Bread. Per serving (1 slice):

    -- Calories: 110
    -- Fat: 1.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 250 milligrams

    Low sodium: Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Bread. Per serving (1 slice):

    -- Calories: 80
    -- Fat: 0.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

8/22
Cheese

    Low-sodium cheese can be tricky to find, but it pays to compare nutrition labels. Swiss cheese is often (but not always) lower in sodium than other varieties.

    Higher sodium: Crystal Farms American Pasteurized Process Cheese Food Singles. Per serving (1 slice or 0.7 ounces):

    -- Calories: 60
    -- Fat: 4 grams
    -- Sodium: 300 milligrams

    Low sodium: Kraft Deli Fresh Extra Thin Aged Swiss Slices. Per serving (1 slice or 0.6 ounces):

    -- Calories: 60
    -- Fat: 5 grams
    -- Sodium: 25 milligrams

9/22
Instant Oatmeal

    If your favorite flavored instant oatmeal steals too much of your daily sodium budget, make 1-minute oatmeal (it's sodium-free) and add your own salt-free flavorings, such as maple syrup and brown sugar.

    Higher sodium: Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Maple & Brown Sugar. Per serving (1 packet):

    -- Calories: 160
    -- Fat: 2 grams
    -- Sodium: 270 milligrams

    Low sodium: Quaker Oats, Quick 1-Minute. Per serving (1/2 cup dry):

    -- Calories: 150
    -- Fat: 3 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

10/22
Baking Powder

    If you make a lot of cakes, breads, or pancakes and are on a strict low-sodium diet, replace your regular baking powder with a sodium-free one, such as Hain's Featherweight* brand.

    Higher sodium: Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder. Per serving (1/8 teaspoon):

    -- Calories: 0
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 60 milligrams

    Low sodium: Hain Featherweight Baking Powder.* Per serving (1/8 teaspoon):

    -- Calories: 0
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

    *Note: Hain Featherweight Baking Powder has 70 milligrams of potassium per 1/8 teaspoon serving. Ask your doctor before using this product.

11/22
Potato Chips

    Although potato chips come to mind quickly when you think of salty foods, they may not have as much sodium as you think (although certain varieties certainly pack their share of salt). First, choose low-fat baked chips rather than fried, then check for a low-sodium option.

    Higher sodium: Lay's Original Naturally Baked Potato Chips. Per serving (about 15 chips or 1 ounce):

    -- Calories: 120
    -- Fat: 2 grams
    -- Sodium: 180 milligrams

    Low sodium: Kettle Bakes Potato Chips, Lightly Salted. Per serving (about 24 chips or 1 ounce):

    -- Calories: 120 calories
    -- Fat: 3 grams
    -- Sodium: 115 milligrams

12/22
French Fries

    Even French fries can be part of a heart-healthy diet, if you choose wisely and bake rather than deep-fat fry them. Like the potatoes they're made from, French fries are a good source of potassium.

    Higher sodium: Ore-Ida Golden Crinkles French Fried Potatoes. Per serving (about 12 fries or 3 ounces):

    -- Calories: 120
    -- Fat: 3.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 310 milligrams

    Low sodium: Cascadian Farm Crinkle Cut French Fries. Per serving (about 18 fries or 3 ounces):

    -- Calories: 110
    -- Fat: 4 grams
    -- Sodium: 10 milligrams

13/22
Beef Bouillon

    Bouillon is a low-fat way to add flavor to gravies, sauces, soups, stews, and marinades, but choose a sodium-free bouillon to avoid a heavy dose of sodium.

    Higher sodium: Knorr Beef Bouillon. Per serving (1/2 cube or 6 grams):

    -- Calories: 20
    -- Fat: 1 gram
    -- Sodium: 1,400 milligrams

    Low sodium: Herb-Ox Sodium Free Beef Bouillon.* Per serving (1 packet or 4 grams):

    -- Calories: 10
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

    *Note: Herb-Ox Sodium Free Beef Bouillon has 424 milligrams of potassium per packet. Ask your doctor before using this product.

14/22
Vegetable Juice

    Checking for low-sodium versions of products, such as vegetable juice, in your favorite brands is smart. But compare different brands, too, if you're on a strict low-sodium diet.

    Higher sodium: V8 100% Vegetable Juice. Per serving (1 cup or 8 ounces):

    -- Calories: 50
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 480 milligrams

    Low sodium: R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie, Low Sodium Juice. Per serving (1 cup or 8 ounces):

    -- Calories: 50
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 35 milligrams

15/22
Bagels

    Since the 1960s, bagels have increased 2-3 times in size. The bigger the bagel, the more sodium (and calories) you get. Low-sodium bagels are uncommon, but you can opt for mini bagels that are 100% whole wheat.

    Higher sodium: Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat Bagels (regular size). Per serving (1 bagel):

    -- Calories: 240
    -- Fat: 2 grams
    -- Sodium: 400 milligrams

    Low sodium: Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat Mini Bagels. Per serving (1 bagel):

    -- 110 calories
    -- Fat: 1 gram
    -- Sodium: 180 milligrams

16/22
Microwave Popcorn

    Popcorn is a healthful whole grain snack -- if it's not swimming in butter and salt. If you like the convenience of microwave popcorn (rather than air-popping), be sure to check sodium and fat on the nutrition label before buying.

    Higher sodium: Pop-Secret Light Popcorn, butter. Per serving (3 Tbsp. unpopped, or about 6 cups popped):

    -- Calories: 160
    -- Fat: 6 grams
    -- Sodium: 360 milligrams

    Low sodium: Bearitos Organic No Salt No Oil Microwave Popcorn. Per serving (4 Tbsp. unpopped, or about 5 cups popped):

    -- Calories: 110
    -- Fat: 1.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

17/22
Flavored Oatmeal

    Sodium often sneaks into your cereal, whether it's hot or cold. Different varieties within the same brand vary in sodium, so be sure to check the nutrition labels.

    Higher sodium: Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Maple & Brown Sugar. Per serving (1 packet):

    -- Calories: 160
    -- Fat: 2 grams
    -- Sodium: 270 milligrams

    Low sodium: Quaker Simple Harvest Instant Multigrain Hot Cereal, Maple Brown Sugar with Pecans. Per serving (1 packet):

    -- Calories: 160
    -- Fat: 3.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 75 milligrams

18/22
Canned Beans

    The soluble fiber in beans (legumes) is helpful for keeping your cholesterol in check, and canned beans are super convenient. If you're unable to find no-salt-added canned beans, rinse regular beans with water, which cuts the sodium by about 30 to 40 percent.

    Higher sodium: Bush's Best Black Beans. Per serving (1/2 cup):

    -- Calories: 105
    -- Fat: 0.5 grams
    -- Sodium: 480 milligrams

    Low sodium: Eden Organic Black Beans, No Salt Added. Per serving (1/2 cup):

    -- Calories: 110
    -- Fat: 1 gram
    -- Sodium: 15 milligrams

19/22
Baking Soda

    Baking soda, important for its leavening action, also adds a significant amount of sodium to recipes, especially if your daily limit is low. Follow the instructions on alternative baking sodas like Ener-G Baking Soda because you may need to double the amount called for in recipes.

    Higher sodium: Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda. Per serving (1/8 teaspoon):

    -- Calories: 0
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 150 milligrams

    Low sodium: Ener-G Baking Soda. Per serving (1/8 teaspoon):

    -- Calories: 0
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

20/22
Ketchup

    Odds are, you have ketchup in your kitchen. But even a small squirt can add a significant amount of sodium, so choose ketchup without added salt.

    Higher sodium: Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Per serving (1 Tbsp.):

    -- Calories: 15
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 190 milligrams

    Low sodium: Heinz No Salt Added Tomato Ketchup. Per serving (1 Tbsp.):

    -- Calories: 20
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 0 milligrams

21/22
Canned Soup

    A single cup of canned soup can supply half or more of your daily sodium limit. Some brands offer reduced-sodium versions of certain soup varieties.

    Higher sodium: Progresso Soup -- Vegetable Classics, Garden Vegetable. Per serving (1 cup):

    -- Calories: 90
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 940 milligrams

    Low sodium: Progresso Soup -- 50% Less Sodium, Garden Vegetable. Per serving (1 cup):

    -- Calories: 100
    -- Fat: 0 grams
    -- Sodium: 450 milligrams

22/22
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