Useful tips for choosing low sodium foods

At the Grocery Store – Buy lower sodium foods to prepare healthier meals at home

Read the information on food packages

  • Buy unsalted and lower sodium foods whenever possible. Look for words such as “sodium-free”, “low sodium”, “reduced sodium,” or “no added salt” on the package.
  • Compare food labels. Buy the products with the lowest amounts of sodium.
  • Look for foods that contain less than 360 mg of sodium per serving.
  • You can also use the % Daily Value (%DV) on the label to compare products and see if the food has a little or a lot of sodium.

 

Make wise choices from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide

  • Vegetables and Fruit – Buy fresh or frozen vegetables whenever possible. Look for canned vegetables that are low in sodium. Buy low sodium vegetable juice and tomato juice.
  • Grain Products – Choose breads, breakfast cereals and bakery products that are lowest in sodium. Enjoy a variety of grains such as barley, quinoa and rice which are naturally sodium free.
  • Milk and Alternatives - Enjoy milk, fortified soy beverages and yogurt because they are low in sodium.
  • Meat and Alternatives - Buy unseasoned meat, poultry, fish, seafood and tofu. Choose unsalted nuts. Buy low sodium canned beans or try dried beans, peas and lentils.

At Home Prepare your own meals often, using little or no salt.

Make healthy meals and snacks

  • Eat fewer packaged, ready-to-eat and take-out foods.
  • Make your own soups, sauces and salad dressings. Find quick and easy recipes at www.dietitians.ca/YourHealth.
  • Enjoy more vegetables and fruit. Use fresh or frozen instead of canned whenever possible.
  • Cook pasta, rice or hot cereal without adding salt.
  • Taste your food before adding salt.

Try these easy ways to cut back on sodium every day:

Try… Instead of…
Fresh fruit and vegetables, unsalted popcorn or unsalted nuts Chips, salted pretzels or other salty snacks
Rice cooked in water or juice Rice cooked in salty broth
Yogurt Cottage cheese
Sandwiches made with roasted meat or poultry, eggs or natural peanut butter Sandwiches made with canned or deli meat
Fresh or dried herbs and spices, garlic, ginger, onion, vinegar and lemon and lime juice Salt, kosher salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, gourmet salt, smoked salt, celery salt, garlic salt or onion salt
Oil, unsalted margarine or unsalted butter Salted margarine or salted butter

Reduce the sodium in the foods you use

  • Rinse canned vegetables and canned beans, peas and lentils to wash away some of the sodium.
  • Use less of the seasoning that comes with taco kits, packaged macaroni and cheese, pasta and rice mixes.
  • Use less salt than what the recipe calls for, except when baking.
  • Use less ketchup, soy sauce and other condiments, or try the lower sodium option.

Add flavour without sodium

  • Flavour foods with herbs and spices. Here are a few ideas:
  • Basil – tastes great with tomatoes and pasta
  • Cumin – adds flavour to soups, stews and sauces
  • Curry – good with meat, poultry and stews
  • Dill – wonderful with fish, potatoes and eggs
  • Oregano – perfect in pasta, soups and salads
  • Paprika – good with seafood, vegetables, potato salad and eggs
  • Rosemary – delicious with chicken, lamb and pork
  • Thyme – tasty with chicken, veal, salads and vegetables

Eating Out – Choose wisely when eating out

Make lower sodium menu choices

  • Order smaller portions or share with someone.
  • Ask for gravy, sauces and salad dressings “on the side”, and use only small amounts.
  • Flavour your food with lemon or pepper instead of adding salt, sauces or gravy.
  • Balance out your day. If you ate a high sodium restaurant meal today, make sure you eat a lower sodium meal at home.
  • Ask for your meal to be cooked without salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG), a seasoning that is very high in sodium.

Find the best menu choices

Check the nutrition information of menu items before you order and choose foods with less sodium. This information may be in a poster or pamphlet at the restaurant or on the restaurant’s website.

Try these easy ways to cut back on sodium when you eat out:

If you’re eating… Choose this… Instead of…
North American food
  • lettuce, onions or tomatoes on burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches
  • grilled or roasted chicken sandwich
  • salad with dressing on the side, or a baked potato
  • cheese, ketchup, mustard or pickles on burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches
  • chicken wings or chicken fingers
  • French fries or fried onion rings
Chinese food
  • steamed rice, steamed buns or dim sum rice noodle rolls served with sodium-reduced soy sauce on the side
  • stir-fry vegetables with garlic
  • steamed fish
  • wonton noodles or rice noodles
  • fried rice or dim sum appetizers served in soy, hoisin, fish or black bean sauces
  • stir-fry vegetables in oyster sauce
  • BBQ pork or duck
  • chow mein or fried rice noodles
Indian food
  • plain rice
  • roti or chapatti
  • tandoori dishes
  • pilau
  • naan or parantha
  • curry dishes or biryani
Italian food
  • grilled fish, meat or poultry
  • pasta in garlic and olive oil
  • pizza with vegetable toppings
  • lasagna or parmigiana dishes
  • pasta in tomato or marinara sauce
  • pizza with bacon, extra cheese or pepperoni

Let your taste buds enjoy the flavour of food with less sodium!

Source: Health Canada