Sodium and People with Diabetes
Sodium and diabetes
The average American consumes about 6 to 18 grams (or 1 to 3 teaspoons) of ordinary
table salt (or sodium chloride) each day. People with diabetes are encouraged to limit
the sodium in their diets to help prevent or to control high blood pressure.
The 2015 recommendations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture instruct you to limit
your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. The recommended daily sodium intake
is 1,500 mg for African Americans and for people diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes,
or chronic kidney disease, as well as those ages 51 and older. Note that the American
Heart Association (AHA) takes an even more conservative approach to sodium intake. The
AHA recommends a maximum daily sodium intake of 1,500 mg. Unless your healthcare provider
has told you that this intake level doesn't apply to you, the AHA recommends it for
everyone, regardless of age, medical history, or ethnic background. Lowering your
salt intake may help you avoid taking medicines for blood pressure.
How is sodium measured?
What foods are high in sodium?
Most foods contain some sodium, but sodium is often added during the processing of
prepared and prepackaged food products. Some examples of foods that are high in sodium
include the following:
Meats, such as bacon, breakfast sausage, ham, cold cuts (bologna), Canadian bacon,
corned beef, hot dogs, Polish and Italian sausages
Fish, such as canned tuna, salmon, and sardines; commercially frozen, prebreaded,
or smoked fish; and canned shellfish
Canned foods, such as vegetables, soups, vegetable and tomato juices
Prepared or premixed products, such as boxed macaroni and cheese, potato mixes, TV
dinners, frozen entrees
Snacks, such as salted crackers, pretzels, potato chips, commercially prepared baked
goods (for example, cookies and doughnuts)
Other foods, such as olives, pickles, commercially prepared salad dressings, soy and
steak sauces, and cheeses
Many food products that are commercially prepared are now available with lower sodium
content. When buying food products, be sure to check the labels for the symbol Na
or NaCl, or the words sodium or sodium chloride that indicate sodium is present.
Other spices and herbs can be substituted for salt to add flavor. Salt substitutes
are also available. Talk with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for
more tips on how you can manage the sodium in your diet. Some salt substitutes contain
potassium chloride. This may be dangerous in people with kidney disease.