Tips for Reducing Salt Intake

by Dawid Furman
Tips for Reducing Salt Intake

Whether you pass the salt or avoid the shaker, you might consume more sodium in your diet than you think. 

Most Canadians consume more than the upper limit of 2,300 mg per day sodium recommendation and could benefit from a reduction in sodium intake.

Reducing sodium intake can benefit cardiovascular health by reducing your risk for high blood pressure by up to 30%. It can also help reduce your risk of stroke and coronary heart attack.

Keep reading for tips on reducing sodium intake, starting at the grocery store and ending on your plate.

Read Food Labels When Shopping

Reading labels can help scope out healthier processed foods with lower sodium content, such as lower sodium tomato sauce, canned fish, or whole grain bread.

The recommended % Daily Value of sodium can be found at the top right-hand side of a nutrition facts table.

 Keep this in mind for perspective when choosing your items:

  • 5% of Daily Value is low in sodium.
  • 15% of Daily Value is high in sodium.

Have an understanding of nutritional claims regarding sodium:

  • Free of sodium – Product contains less than 5mg of sodium per reference amount.
  • Low in sodium – Product contains not over 140mg of sodium per reference amount.
  • Reduced in sodium – Product contains 25% less sodium than normal
  • No added salt – Product does not contain any added salt.
  • Lightly salted – Product contains 50% less salt added than other similar products.
  • Keep in mind that products containing the last three claims can still be high in sodium.

Click here for an in-depth guide on how to read a food label.

Read Food Labels
Read Food Labels

Choose Less Processed Foods When Meal Planning 

It may surprise you, but 75% of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods.  

Common processed foods containing high sodium are salty snacks, cereals, breads, processed meats, frozen dinner trays, and sauces.

Some tips on how to cut down on processed foods by The Canadian Food Guide would be:

  • Make homemade versions of common processed foods, e.g., homemade pizza..
  • Choose fresh meat instead of deli meat.
  • Plan meals in advance to include fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Choose healthy, unprocessed snacks such as vegetables, humus, eggs, or nuts.

Be Cautious When Visiting Restaurants

Along with processed foods, restaurant food is another big contributor of sodium in our diet.

The good news is this does not mean you have to completely stop eating out; however, choosing healthier menu options can greatly reduce your sodium intake and, in turn, improve your health.

Some tips on including healthier low sodium menu options when eating out:

  • Check if the restaurant has nutrition information available, which should be available on their website or on nutritional pamphlets in their store.
  • If nutrition information is not available, then your best bet is to choose less processed food and limit dressings that may be salty. For example, a meat, chicken, or fish dish with balsamic vinegar and oil.
Eating out
Eating out

When Cooking Replace Salt with Other Alternatives

Replacing salt with alternatives such as spices and herbs effectively reduces salt intake without making your meals taste like cardboard.

Some ideas to replace salt during food preparation:

  • Use herbs and spices instead of ingredients high in salt for aroma.
  • Use seasoning low in salt, such as Miss Dash.
  • Drain the liquid from canned vegetables and rinse it with water to eliminate salt.
  • When cooking rice, pasta, or potatoes, add herbs or spices instead of salt.
  • Flavour meets with homemade marinades such as vinegars made from balsamic, red wine mixed with oil, and spices.


If you like: Try one of the following:
Hot Cayenne pepper, chilli (fresh oil powder or low sodium sauce), ginger, hot dry mustard, wassabi, red pepper flakes
Sour  Leman, lime, vinegar (balsamic, cider)
Peppery  Pepper (black, brown, pink, white) or peppercorn
Sweet  Cranberry sauce, fresh fruit, fruit juice, honey, molasses
Citrus Lemon, lemongrass, lime
Tomato Tomato (fresh or low sodium canned)
Other Anise, coriander, curry, cumin, onion, paprika, powder, dill, dry mustard, garlic

Table taken from Alberta Health Service.

Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices

Replace Salty Snacks with Lower Salt Alternatives

Salty snacks such as chips and pretzels are a common choice of snacks.

The good news is that by making small changes, you can make snacking much healthier while equally tasty. Some low-sodium snack alternatives are:

  • Fresh pre-washed, peeled, and chopped fruits and vegetables.
  • Canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, excluding added salt.
  • Oats and quinoa.
  • Plain natural yoghurt.
  • Dried legumes such as beans without added salt.
  • Low salt popcorn alternative.
  • Nuts & seeds without added salt.


Plain Natural Yoghurt
Plain Natural Yoghurt

Hopefully, the dietary strategies discussed to reduce sodium intake encourage you to make small, simple changes that will improve your health and quality of life.

Working with a Dietitian may help you make adequate changes palatable, affordable, and satisfying. 

Find your Dietitian here.




About the Author: Dawid Furman is a nutrition and exercise science student studying at the South East Technological University in Ireland and hopes to pursue a career as a dietitian in the future.

Reviewed by: Lindsey McGregor, RD, and Elsa Wong, RD

Images from Unsplash and Pexels

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