Sodium is a necessary part of our diet. Sodium helps our bodies keep the right amount of water,
but we only need a little bit.
The most common form of sodium is found in table salt, which is called sodium chloride. Most foods naturally have at least a small amount of sodium in them. Processed foods, on the other hand, have much more. Sodium is an cheap way to add flavor and to keep foods fresh longer.
|Rate Your Sodium Intake|
|How often do you…||Less than one time per week||1 or 2 times per week||3 to 5 times per week||Almost every day|
|eat cured or processed meats, such as ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, or lunch meat?|
|choose commercially prepared foods, such as canned or instant soups, or frozen dinners?|
|eat potato chips, popcorn, corn chips, pretzels, or salted nuts?|
|salt your food before tasting it?|
|add salt, salad dressing, or condiments such as ketchup, steak sauce, mustard, or soy sauce to your foods?|
|If you have three or more checks in the last two columns, you probably need to cut back on some of these foods. However, not all foods contribute the same amount of sodium. Learn to read food labels and choose foods lower in sodium.|
It is recommended that we eat no more than 2,300 mg of sodium –about 1 teaspoon of table salt – each day. To do that, choose lower-sodium foods more often.
These foods are often high in sodium. Limit these foods:
Take it Slow!
Some of these foods are high in sodium – check the label to decide if it is a healthy choice. Go easy with these foods:
Go! Go! Go!
These foods are often low in sodium. Eat more of these:
Canned spaghetti rings
Chicken noodle soup
Smoked meat and fish
Cakes and pastries
Instant breakfast cereals (oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc.)
Macaroni and cheese
Pasta and rice
Peas, beans, and lentils
United States Dietary Guidelines (USDA);
American Dietetic Association (ADA);
Reviewer: Stephanie K. Goodwin, RD, FNP graduate assistant
Reviewed by Kathy Hosig, Ph.D., MPH, RD, Associate Professor, Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine
This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government). For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays). By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services.
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This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
October 19, 2010