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Kidney Disease: Eating Less Sodium

Sodium is a mineral that the body needs in small amounts. Because sodium is found in table salt, most people eat far more sodium than they need. When sodium intake is too high, it can increase thirst and cause the body to retain fluid. To avoid these side effects, people with kidney disease are often told to eat less sodium. The tips on this sheet can show you how.

Hands holding can with finger pointing to nutrition label.When You Shop for Food

Unlike canned and processed foods, fresh foods have no added salt and are better for you. When you’re food shopping:

  • Choose fresh foods when you can.

  • Read food labels before buying packaged foods. Check the label’s nutrition facts for sodium amounts and servings per package.

  • Try to pick packaged foods with a sodium content of 140 mg (milligrams) or less per serving.

  • Do not choose foods with over 400 mg of sodium per serving.

Season Instead of Salt

Try the seasonings and foods listed below to season without sodium.

  • Basil: tomatoes, squash, eggplant, soups, fish

  • Curry: soups, rice, lentils, chicken

  • Dill: beets, cucumbers, green beans

  • Garlic: sauces, vegetables, meats, fish

  • Ginger: carrots, chicken, cooked fruit, white sauces

  • Lemon: asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, spinach, fish

  • Mint: cold soups, salads, fruit dishes

  • Oregano: eggplant, chicken, salads, sauces

  • Thyme: chicken, fish, lean meats, soups, stews

Do not use seasoning salt or salt substitutes. They may contain sodium or potassium (another mineral people with kidney disease are often told to limit).

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.