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Heart Failure Health Center

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Heart Failure and a Low-Salt Diet

How Much of Which Foods Should I Eat?


2-3 servings per day

  • 2-3 ounces of fresh or frozen fish, shellfish, meat (beef, veal, lamb, pork), or poultry
  • 1/2 cup cooked dried beans or peas
  • 1/2 cup low-salt canned fish (such as salmon or tuna)
  • 1 low-sodium frozen dinner (less than 600 mg sodium per meal; Limit to one per day)
  • 1 egg

Dairy Products

2 or more servings/day

  • 2-3 ounces of low-sodium cheese
  • 1 cup milk (fat-free, 1%, 2%, or whole)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 cup soy milk

Vegetables and Fruits

5 or more servings/day

  • 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, frozen, or canned fruit
  • 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, frozen, or no-salt added canned vegetables
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium tomato juice or vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium tomato sauce

Bread and Grains

6 or more servings/day

  • Low-sodium breads, rolls, bagels, and cereals (1 serving = 1 slice bread, 1 small roll, 1/2 bagel)
  • 1/2 cup pasta (noodles, spaghetti, macaroni)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • Low-sodium crackers (read label for serving size)

Sweets and Snacks

Use sparingly

  • 2 1/2 ounces unsalted nuts
  • 1 slice angel food cake
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and other snacks
  • 1 tbsp jelly or honey
  • 1 cup sherbet, sorbet or Italian ice
  • 1 popsicle
  • 3 fig bars or gingersnaps
  • 8-10 jelly beans; 3 pieces hard candy

Fats, Oils and Condiments

Use liberally

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Herbs and spices without salt

Fats, Oils and Condiments

Use sparingly
  • Olive and canola oils
  • Low-sodium butter and margarine
  • Low-sodium soups
  • Low-sodium salad dressing
  • Homemade gravy without salt
  • Low-sodium broth or bouillon
  • Low-sodium catsup
  • Low-sodium mustard
  • Low-sodium sauce mixes

Sample Menu


  • Fresh fruit
  • Low-sodium cereal (hot or cold)
  • Milk


  • Lean roast turkey on whole wheat bread with low-sodium mustard
  • Raw carrot sticks
  • Applesauce
  • Milk
  • Vanilla wafers


  • Grilled chicken

  • Boiled potatoes
  • Steamed fresh vegetables
  • Tossed salad and low-sodium dressing
  • Fresh melon


  • Fruit
  • Walnuts or almonds
  • Raisins
  • Yogurt

Cooking Tips

  • Use fresh ingredients and/or foods with no added salt.
  • For favorite recipes, you may need to use other ingredients and delete or decrease the salt added. Salt can be removed from any recipe except from those containing yeast.
  • Try orange or pineapple juice as a base for meat marinades.
  • Avoid convenience foods such as canned soups, entrées, and vegetables, pasta and rice mixes, frozen dinners, instant cereal, and puddings and gravy sauce mixes.
  • Select frozen entrées that contain 600 mg or less of salt, but only eat one of these frozen foods per day. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the package for sodium content.
  • Use fresh, frozen, no added salt canned vegetables, or canned vegetables that have been rinsed before they are prepared.
  • Low sodium canned soups may be used.
  • Avoid mixed seasonings and spice blends that include salt, such as garlic salt.
  • Before using a salt substitute, check with your doctor.

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