Many people find that cutting down on salt lowers their blood pressure. Salt (also called sodium chloride, or NaCl) contains sodium. A low-salt diet limits the amount of sodium in your diet to no more than 2300 milligrams (mg) a day, which is about 1 teaspoon of salt.
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others. A goal of further lowering the sodium in your diet to 1500 mg a day is recommended if:
Our taste for salt is mainly a habit. If you slowly lower the amount of salt in your diet, your taste for salt will begin to change. After a while, food will start tasting better without salt than it did with it.
Most of the salt in the average diet comes from processed foods, including canned or boxed foods and restaurant foods. Foods may contain a lot of salt even if they don't taste salty. Learn which foods to avoid by reading labels to find out how much sodium is in the foods. Table salt added to foods is another common source of sodium in the diet. By checking labels and not adding salt to foods, you can reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. Follow these guidelines:
Many of these foods are now available in unsalted or low salt versions. Read all labels carefully.
If your diet must be restricted to much lower amounts of sodium, talk to your healthcare provider and a registered dietitian for help in planning your meals. It is important to keep your meals nutritionally balanced and tasty. It can be hard to follow a restricted-salt diet if the food doesn't taste good, but there are many healthy ways to add taste without adding salt or fat.
Ask your healthcare provider about using salt substitutes. Most salt substitutes contain potassium for flavor. If you are taking certain medications, you may need to be careful about the amount of potassium in your diet.