Published on March 01, 2019

Where’s the sodium?

It’s hidden in places that might surprise you

low saltWhen you have heart failure, you might find yourself playing detective.

Managing your care involves sleuthing for sodium—or salt. It’s found in a lot of foods and can make your condition worse by causing fluid buildup and forcing your heart to work harder.

Key sources

More than 70 percent of the sodium we consume comes from processed and restaurant foods—and not just from potato chips or french fries.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), top food sources of sodium include bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, burritos and tacos, soup, and sandwiches. 

Read labels

Ask restaurants about low-sodium items on their menus. And read labels to find and choose prepared and packaged foods that are likely to be healthiest.

Terms to look for include:

  • Sodium-free or salt-free: less than 5 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving.
  • Very low sodium: 35mg or less per serving.
  • Low sodium: 140mg or less per serving.
  • Reduced sodium: at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product.
  • Light in sodium: at least 50 percent less sodium than the regular product.
  • No-salt-added or unsalted: no salt added during processing, but not necessarily salt-free.

The AHA recommends limiting sodium consumption to no more than 2,300mg per day.