Lowering Your Sodium Intake in the Kitchen

While preparing your own meals, keep the following items in mind to help keep your sodium levels low:

  • Instead of adding salt, season with vinegar or lemon juice for zest.
  • While you may start with a plate low in sodium, be careful of the condiments, sauces and dressings you add. Soy sauce is a big offender, weighing in at 1,500 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon. Innocent salad dressings can be exposed as not-so-innocent after a careful inspection of sodium levels.
  • Pure oils are typically low in sodium. Use olive oil or vegetable oil instead of butter or margarine when you can.
  • Salted butter has about 45 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon, while unsalted versions are closer to one or two milligrams.
  • Soft drinks can vary from a couple of milligrams to 100 milligrams of sodium per can.
  • Use frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
  • Make your own condiments, dressings and sauces rather than using the high-sodium versions from the store.
  • Create your own season blends. Italian: basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme or Barbeque: cumin, garlic, hot pepper, and oregano.
  • Use “Mrs. Dash” brand seasonings. They provide a variety of options, all without salt or MSG.
  • Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. On the foods in the table below, try the suggested seasonings in place of salt.


Food to season Seasonings
Eggs garlic, parsley, pepper, basil, dill, oregano
Fish basil, French tarragon, lemon, thyme, parsley, oregano
Poultry lovage, marjoram, sage
Salads basil, lovage, parsley, French tarragon
Vegetables basil, parsley, savory


In the rare case where you are given the amount of salt in a food item and you want to convert to the equivalent amount of sodium, just multiply by 0.4.

It is all very easy to determine sodium levels when you have a label on the side of what you are about to eat. What about foods without labels, like an apple or a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli? What do you do then? The easiest thing to do is to consult the USDA web site for their table of sodium content in food.

Generally, if food comes in a can, bag or box, the sodium levels will be much higher than something you pick up from the produce aisle of your grocery store. Frozen and fresh fruit and fruit juices are low in sodium. Most of them have less than 16 milligrams per one cup serving. Fresh or frozen vegetables have around 35 milligrams of sodium or less. Grains are naturally very low in sodium.


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