No-Added-Salt Diet

Why should I follow a salt-controlled diet?

A no-added-salt or salt-controlled diet can help control high blood pressure. Even if you are taking medication, it’s important to follow a salt-controlled diet to help the medication work more effectively.

Tips for Following a Salt-controlled Diet

  • Use a limited amount of salt in cooking.
  • Don’t add salt to your food at the table, either at home or when dining out. Most restaurants add salt when preparing food.
  • Use fresh or dried herbs, spices, and lemon juice to season foods.
  • Avoid ham, bacon, salt pork, and cheese, because these are made with salt.
  • When buying convenience foods and processed meats, choose reduced sodium entrees with less than 800 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Read labels carefully. Some words to avoid include: salt, sodium chloride, monosodium glutamate (MSG), cured, brine, corned, pickled, and smoked. Remember: Canned vegetables are higher in sodium than are fresh or frozen vegetables.

Low-Salt Diet

Types of Foods Select Avoid

Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta

6 to 11 servings each day

One serving equals:

  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
  • Breads and rolls without salted tops
  • Reduced-sodium soups
  • Unsalted or low-salt crackers, pretzels, popcorn and snacks
  • Breads and rolls with salted tops
  • Potato chips, salted, pretzels, popcorn, and nuts
  • Regular canned soup and dehydrated soup mixes
  • Commercially prepared or boxed rice, potato, or pasta mixes and commercial bread stuffing


2-4 servings each day

One serving equals:

  • 1 medium-size fresh
  • 1/2 cup canned
  • 3/4 cup juice
  • Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and juices
  • None

Milk and Dairy Products

Limit to 2 servings each day

One serving equals:

  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • All milk
  • All yogurt
  • None


3-5 servings each day

One serving equals:

  • 1 cup raw
  • 1/2 cup cooked or chopped
  • Fresh and frozen vegetables
  • Canned vegetables
  • Sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, and other vegetables prepared in brine
  • Frozen vegetables in prepared sauces and cheese
  • Vegetable and tomato juices and canned or dehydrated soup
Snacks, sweets, and desserts
  • Unsalted pretzels, chips, popcorn, and nuts
  • Pudding, custard, gelatin, ice cream, sherbet, cake, cookies, or pie (limit to one serving a day)
  • Salted potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and other salted snack foods

Meats, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Peas, Eggs and Cheese

2-3 servings or a total of 6 ounces daily

One serving equals:

  • 2-3 ounces cooked meat, chicken, or fish (about the size of a deck of cards) OR
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cottage cheese or tuna fish OR
  • One egg, 1/2 cup cooked beans, two tablespoons peanut butter or one ounce of cheese. Choose leaner cuts of beef and meat and limit the amount of high-fat items like eggs and cheese.
  • Any fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish or shellfish
  • Eggs and egg substitutes
  • Peanut butter
  • Dry peas and beans
  • All cheeses (reduced-sodium varieties recommended)
  • Reduced-sodium luncheon meats
  • Regular luncheon meat and cold cuts
  • Processed cheese
  • Sausage and bacon
  • Any smoked, cured, salted, kosher, or canned meat, fish, or poultry
  • Sardines and anchovies
  • Pickled eggs
  • Salted nuts
Fats, condiments, and beverages
  • Regular margarine and butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressing
  • Ketchup, mustard, and other condiments
  • Pepper, herbs, and spices
  • Vinegar and lemon or lime juice
  • Coffee and tea
  • Postum
  • Carbonated beverages and lemonade
  • Limit salt to 1/2 teaspoon per day, used in cooking or at the table.
  • Regular bouillon or broth
  • Salt or seasonings that contain salt or MSG, such as Accent
  • Garlic salt, onion salt, and celery salt
  • Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce
  • Flavored vinegars and oils
  • Snack dips made with instant soup mixes or processed cheese
  • Salad dressings containing bacon fat, bacon bits, or salt pork
  • You may use frozen or prepared foods that include these items as ingredients, but do not cook or use them at the table.

Sample menu

  • Orange juice
  • Shredded wheat cereal
  • Banana
  • Whole-wheat toast with margarine and jam
  • Milk
  • Coffee or tea


  • Reduced- sodium vegetable soup
  • Unsalted crackers
  • Hamburger on a bun with sliced tomato, lettuce, mustard, and mayonnaise
  • Fresh fruit salad


  • Iced tea with lemon
  • Graham crackers
  • Fresh apple
  • Milk


  • Tossed salad with vinegar and oil dressing
  • Broiled skinless chicken breast
  • Herbed brown rice
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Whole-grain roll with margarine
  • Italian fruit ice and gingersnaps
  • Coffee or tea

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