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5 Tips for Low-sodium Cooking

Understanding Low-sodium Labels

Nutrition information, including sodium content, is readily available on most store-bought food. If your doctor has given you a daily sodium limit, it's important to read the table on the back of a product carefully. Take serving size into account when you calculate how much sodium you'll end up consuming -- whether you will eat more or less than the estimated serving size should factor into your daily sodium total.

Now that research is revealing the dangers of a high sodium diet, the market for low-sodium foods is growing, and food manufacturers are taking advantage of it. This is both good and bad. Although it's great that low-sodium options are easier to find, you need to be careful and familiarize yourself with the terminology.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines how manufacturers can advertise their sodium content. For instance, a label that says "no salt added" may contain salt that's naturally part of the food -- just without the salt that's otherwise added. "Reduced sodium" means that the product has 25 percent less sodium than the original product. If the product has 140 milligrams or less per serving, it can be advertised as "low-sodium"; if it has 35 milligrams or less, you'll see "very low-sodium." "Sodium free" doesn't necessarily mean zero milligrams, but it does mean less than 5 milligrams.

Eventually, your tastes will adapt, the sodium withdrawal will pass, and you'll soon find that a little salt goes a long way.