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Cirrhosis: Eating a low-salt diet

If you have cirrhosis, you may need to reduce your sodium intake by eating less salt. You'll feel better and lower your risk of fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites) and legs (edema) and other complications by following the suggestions in this Actionset. You may also want to visit with a nutritionist (registered dietitian) to help you get started or find more ways to cut down on salt and eat a healthful diet.

Eating less sodium does not have to be hard, but you do have to think about it. Salt is in many foods, so limiting your salt intake means more than just not using the salt shaker. Packaged (processed) foods and restaurant foods are usually quite high in salt. You can start reducing the sodium in your diet by:

  • Reading labels to see how much sodium foods contain and keeping careful track of your sodium intake. This is the surest way of evaluating your diet.
  • Limiting packaged foods and restaurant foods, which typically are high in sodium.
  • Not adding salt to your food during cooking or at the table.
  • Using low-sodium spices and sauces to add flavor to your food. Low-sodium foods can still be tasty.


Up Next in This Action Set:


  1. Havas S, et al. (2007). The urgent need to reduce sodium consumption. JAMA, 298(12): 1439–1441.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Last Revised January 22, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 22, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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