Shake the Salt Habit

More than 70 percent of the sodium in your diet likely comes from hidden salt added to packaged and prepared foods. Limit your salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) each day to keep your heart and kidneys healthy.

Fresh or frozen unprocessed meats, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, tofu Lunch meats, deli meats, sausage, bacon, ham, cured or salted meat, pepperoni, salami, chicken nuggets, fish sticks 
Unprocessed chicken, pork Chicken or pork that has salt water added
Canned tuna or salmon—low sodium or rinsed; egg salad, peanut butter Regular canned tuna or salmon
Dried peas, beans, lentils Canned beans or lentils with added salt
Unsalted nuts Salted nuts
Milk (for drinking) Buttermilk
Buttermilk (for baking) 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar
Monterey Jack, Swiss, mozzarella, or ricotta cheeses, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt Cottage, Feta, cheddar, American or Velveeta cheeses
Tofu or Indian Paneer Ricotta or Feta cheeses
Homemade pudding or custard Instant mixes
Fruits and vegetables  
All fresh and frozen fruits and juices Frozen fruit pies
Vegetables: fresh, frozen without sauces, low-sodium canned Frozen vegetables in sauces, vegetables canned with salt
Low-salt canned tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce Regular salted canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, salted V-8 or tomato juice
Breads and cereals  
Bread: white, whole grain or unsalted  Breads with salted tops or added cheese
Low-salt bread, sandwich thins, no-salt homemade bread  Regular salted bread
Cooked cereal (not instant) Instant cooked cereals
Puffed or shredded wheat, corn, or rice Raisin Bran, All-Bran, Special K
Crackers: unsalted, graham crackers, Melba toast, unsalted popcorn Salted crackers or popcorn, potato chips, corn chips
Corn tortillas Flour tortillas
Homemade cookies Packaged cookies
Angel food cake Other cakes raised with baking powder
Noodles, rice, or hot cereal cooked without salt Noodles, rice, or hot cereal cooked with salt
Unsalted butter, olive oil, salad dressing, low-salt ketchup Salted butter, soy sauce, salty sauces, ketchup
Juices, Kool-Aid, Tang, seltzer or tonic water, soda, Crystal Light, coffee, tea, homemade cocoa Gatorade, tomato or V-8 juice, salted packaged cocoa mixes
Low-sodium baking powder and baking soda Regular baking soda, regular baking powder
Salted and unsalted butter; margarine; oil; herbs; spices; sugar; honey; lemon, lime or orange peel, or juice; syrup; vinegar; mayonnaise; mustard Salt
Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, low-sodium soy sauce, low-sodium sauces mixed with water or pineapple juice  Soy sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce
Eating out  
Small soda, Unsalted French fries or onion rings, Unsalted burger without pickles, Grilled chicken or fish, Coleslaw Milkshake, Salted French fries or onion rings, Salted burger with pickles, Breaded chicken or fish, Beans, macaroni, biscuits, mashed potatoes
Mayonnaise, mustard, honey mustard Soy sauce, ranch dressing, tartar or BBQ sauce
Pancakes, waffles, eggs, French toast, Danish, Bacon Salty breakfast meats like ham, sausage
Lunch and dinner   
Bread with butter, margarine or dipping olive oil, salads with dressing on the side Salty soups
Plain rice or pasta Fried rice with salted meats, pasta with salty sauces
Pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, pineapple, ground beef Pizza with salted meats like pepperoni or Canadian bacon 
Asian sweet and sour dishes Asian stir-fry dishes with soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce
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Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of Katy's recipes on the Northwest Kidney Centers website.