How to eat less salt

Why is eating less salt good?

Eating less salt can improve your blood pressure (if it is high) and may help to slow any decline in your kidney function. If a doctor has asked you to limit how much you drink, eating less salt can help you feel less thirsty, and may help reduce fluid build-up in the body (oedema).  

You should aim to have no more than 6g salt per day (about 1 level teaspoon) or no more than 5g per day if you are on dialysis. 

The average person in the UK eats around 8g of salt per day. Some salt comes from that which you add to food and some salt is found naturally in food, but most of the salt that we eat comes hidden in manufactured food (around 3 quarters or 75%). 

Tips to help you limit salt (sodium chloride)

  • Try to avoid adding salt at the table and into cooking (this includes all salt such as table salt, sea salt, rock salt, Himalayan pink salt and garlic salt).
  • Use herbs and spices, pepper, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon juice and vinegar to flavour food (ask the dietitian for our herbs and spices leaflet).
  • Taste food before you season it.
  • Limit processed, ready/shop bought foods, jar sauces and takeaway foods as they can be salty. Try to cook from scratch where you can.
  • Different brands of the same food can contain different amounts of salt, so look at labels and compare products.

Reduced sodium salts such as Losalt, Saxa So Low and Solo are made from both sodium chloride and potassium chloride. Because these are high in potassium, they are not suitable for people with kidney disease.

Food labels

Most of the salt we eat comes already hidden in food (¾ or 75%), so it helps to know how to read food labels. 

By reading food labels you will know if a food is low, medium, or high in salt.

How much per 100g?

Food label colourAmount of saltWhen to eat
Green circle


Low salt


Eat freely.
Amber circle


Medium salt


Try to limit to around 2 foods per day.
Red circle


High salt

More than 1.5g

Try to limit. 

How much per portion?

Foods that weigh more than 100g can be labelled per portion. Please check the suggested portion is the same as the amount you plan to eat.

Where possible, try to avoid foods with more than 1.8g of salt per portion.


Examples of food labels

Breakfast wheat cereal (40g portion)

NutritionPer 100gPer 40g
Energy (KJ/Kcal)1540/364616/146
Fat (g)1.70.68
Carbohydrate (g)7128
Protein (g)114.4
Salt (g)0.60.24

Salt is 0.6g/100g which is medium (amber). 

Pasta sauce (jar)

NutritionPer 100gPer 40g
Energy (KJ/Kcal)471/114542/131
Fat (g)8.59.8
Carbohydrate (g)78.1
Protein (g)1.41.6
Salt (g)1.511.74

Salt is 1.51g/100g which is high in salt (labelled red). 

Help to reduce the amount of salt you eat

Small changes that can help reduce the amount of salt you eat

Meal/SnackOption 1Option 2 
Breakfast 40g wheat cereal 
1 toast with butter and marmite
2 wheat biscuits
1 toast with margarine and jam
Mid-morning snack2 digestive biscuits2 gingernut biscuits
LunchHam and cheese sandwich 
Egg salad sandwich
Mid-afternoon snackPearPear
Evening mealChicken and vegetable pasta ready mealChicken and vegetable pasta homemade with passata, garlic and Italian herbs
Bedtime snackHot chocolate
2 crackers with hummus
Cup of tea
2 crackers with cream cheese
Total salt content6g salt 3.12 Salt 

What about eating out?

Meals eaten away from the home are often high in salt. If you know you will be eating out, try to choose lower salt options for other meals and snacks eaten that day.

High salt foods to be aware of

  • Feta, halloumi and blue cheese. If you eat a lot of moderately high salt cheese such as cheddar, try lower salt alternatives such as cream cheese and cottage cheese
  • Salted butter (try margarine or unsalted butter).
  • Cured meats such as bacon, ham, gammon, salami, chorizo, Parma ham, serrano ham, salt beef. 
  • Tinned and processed meats such as corned beef, luncheon meat, spam, sausages, black pudding. • Smoked fish (haddock, mackerel, salmon) and shell fish.
  • Tinned vegetables, sundried tomatoes, olives in brine. 
  • Sauces such as soy, oyster, ketchup and ready spice mixes/seasonings – if using, add in smaller amounts. 
  • Salted crisps and nuts. Try unsalted varieties.

Further information

Useful websites 

Action on salt: 
Action on Salt - Action on Salt

British Heart Foundation:
Salt - how much is too much? - BHF

The Eatwell Guide:
The Eatwell Guide - NHS (

A with more information about salt:
What is salt? (

Useful apps

Apps you can use to scan your food and look for lower slat alternatives.

FoodSwitch UK

Better Health
Healthier Families - Home - NHS (



© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published March 2023. Review due March 2026. NBT003534.

Contact Nutrition & Dietetics

Kendon House
Kendon Way
Southmead Hospital

Telephone: 0117 414 5428 


How to eat less salt