Managing Salt Intake

What is sodium (salt) and why should we eat less?

Salt, or sodium, is important for controlling blood pressure, but you need to strike the right balance. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure, which is bad for both your heart and kidneys. Kidneys affected by disease cannot remove excess salt and fluid, so often they build up in your body, causing:

  • high blood pressure
  • swollen ankles, feet and hands
  • make you thirsty
  • puffy eyes
  • shortness of breath

Sodium is a mineral found in salt and in many of the foods you eat. Most (about 80%) of the sodium (salt) we eat comes from processed and takeaways foods.

How can you eat less sodium?

  • Fresh is best. Choose fresh foods over packaged foods and takeaways.
  • Start using less salt in cooking, try adding ½ the amount of salt called for in recipes until you no longer add salt.
  • Compare food labels and choose the one lowest in sodium per 100g or 100ml.
  • Spice up your meals with herb and spices rather than salt.

Click the link in red to download a PDF which includes - examples of salt swapping.

Try these

Instead of these

Rolled oats porridge made with water, no salt Hubbard's Toasted Muesli original Kellogg's Just Right Original Sanitarium Honey Puffs Weight Watchers Berry Muesli Wheat biscuits (limit to 2 biscuits per day)


Coco Pops, Cornflakes, Rice Bubbles, Nutrigrain, Special K

Fresh & dried herbs & spices Garlic, ginger, lemon or lime juice, pepper and vinegar


All types of salt –rock, sea, iodised and Losalt. Moroccan seasoning Soy, oyster and fish sauces Stock cubes/powders and Gravy powders Worcestershire, tomato and sweet chilli sauce

Fresh meat, fish, chicken, tofu and eggs Canned salmon with no added salt Canned Tuna in spring water Dried peas, lentils, beans & split peas

Smoked, canned, cured or salted meats and fish e.g. bacon, corned beef, salami, sardines, sausages, ham, luncheon sausage, meat pies

Cream, Crème fraiche, Milk Mascarpone, Sour cream, Yoghurt Cottage cheese, ricotta

All other hard and soft cheeses Cheese spread, Feta, Flavoured cheese and processed cheese (cheese slices)

Jam, honey, marmalade, Nutella or no added salt peanut butter

Marmite and vegemite

Plain popcorn, Fruit and vegetable sticks, yoghurt, unsalted nuts, Crackers: Huntley & Palmers Wholegrain Crackers 8 Grain, Real Foods Corn Thins Multigrain and Ryvita Crunch Pumpkin Seeds

Chips, cup of soup, instant noodles, most crackers, Le Snak, olives, pickled vegetables, bhuja mix, salted nuts and popcorn


Note: This is a first line information sheet. Talk with your dietitian if you would like a more detailed low sodium food list.

For general and renal specific use Ownership of this material is vested in the Auckland Regional Renal Dietitians (arrd): Auckland DHB, Counties Manukau DHB, Waitemata DHB, Waikato DHB and Northland DHB. Reproduction of the whole or any part of this material for any purpose without the consent of ARRD. is prohibited. Last updated January 2021 (SOD001)