Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: Controlling sodium in your diet

ingles dietitianQUESTION: I have high blood pressure and have been told to cut down on salt and sodium. What should I be looking at on the label?

Answer:  One of the key recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is: "Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease."


This reduction is supposed to be over time but it may be a pretty dramatic recommendation for some so it is important to understand some of the words.

Sodium - Sodium is an element or ion (Na+) that is present in all living cells including our own. The sodium referred to in the recommendation is the type that is ADDED to products in the form of salt (NaCl), monosodium glutamate or sodium in other additives or flavoring agents.

Salt - Salt can be iodized, kosher or sea salt and beyond what you have on your table or in your cupboard the real culprit is what manufacturers, restaurants and fast-food businesses add to your food. 

Related Items

Low Sodium - An item is "low sodium" if it has less than or equal to 140mg of sodium per serving.(Be sure and read the MILLIGRAMS or mg written and not the % Daily Value-DV).

Reduced Sodium - The amount of sodium present is less than what was present in the original formulation of a processed item. This does not mean the item is low sodium!

No added salt or salt-free - The product has not had salt added but it still may have sodium in some other form and it may not be low sodium.

To achieve the goal of 1500mg per day of sodium you will need to:

1. Read labels and select packaged items that have less than 140mg/serving of sodium. 

2. Limit the fast-food or restaurant foods you eat unless you can request that they do not add salt.

3. Take your salt shaker off the table or counter and use herbs, spices and salt-free seasonings to flavor your food when cooking or eating meals.


Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian


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