Managing Sodium in a CKD Diet


Everyone’s situation is different, but most people dealing with CKD or other kidney related problems will be told to limit their sodium intake to 1500mg – 2000mg per day. Most people think of salt when they hear sodium, but salt is actually a mineral compound called sodium chloride.  The food we eat could contain sodium chloride (salt) or could contain sodium in other forms. Along with potassium and chloride, sodium is one of the body’s three major electrolytes that control the fluids that go in and out of the body’s tissues and cells.

How sodium affects people with CKD

Even though sodium is essential for our body’s to function properly, too much sodium can actually harm us. Eliminating excess sodium and fluids from the body becomes more difficult for people with kidney complications making excess sodium especially harmful to people dealing with CKD. Excess sodium and fluids building up in your tissues and bloodstream can cause your blood pressure to rise, which will lead to more kidney damage. This damage further reduces kidney function, resulting in even more fluid and waste build up in the body. 

Other sodium-related complications are:

  • Edema: swelling in your legs, hands and face
  • Heart failure: excess fluid in the bloodstream can overwork your heart making it enlarged and weak
  • Shortness of breath: fluid can build up in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe

How can I reduce sodium in my diet?

One of the easiest way to reduce sodium in your diet is to eliminate salt. When eating out always make sure the restaurant use fresh meats and vegetables. Processed foods will contain tons of sodium, and need to be avoided. Ask your waitress to have the chef add no extra salt to anything. 

Some facts and tips:

  • 1 tbsp of table salt = 6,976 mg of sodium!
  • Always order sauces and dressings on the side as they tend to have a lot of sodium.
  • Instead of salt, try using other herbs, spices and vinegars to elevate flavors.

Seasoning Without Salt

Try the following spices with the foods listed. The following list is from:

Use with beef, fish, beets, cabbage, carrots, peas, fruit.

Use with beef, pork, most vegetables.

Bay Leaf:
Use with beef, pork, most vegetables.

Use with beef, pork, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, asparagus, and in dips and marinades.

Use with fruit and in baked goods.

Use with beef, chicken, pork, fish, green beans, carrots and in marinades.

Use with beef, chicken, green beans, cabbage, carrots, peas and in dips.

Anything… [ :

Use with beef, chicken, pork, green beans, cauliflower and eggplant.

Use with beef, chicken, pork, green beans, cauliflower and eggplant.

Use with chicken, pork, cauliflower, peas and in marinades.

Use with beef, chicken, pork, fish, green beans, beets and carrots.

Use with chicken, pork, eggplant and in dressing.

Use with fish, chicken, asparagus, beets, cabbage, cauliflower and in marinades.

Tips for cooking with herbs and spices

  • Purchase spices and herbs in small amounts. When they sit on the shelf for years they lose their flavor.
  • Use no more than ¼ teaspoon of dried spice (¾ of fresh) per pound of meat.
  • Add ground spices to food about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking period.
  • Add whole spices to food at least one hour before the end of the cooking period.
  • Combine herbs with oil or butter, set for 30 minutes to bring out their flavor, then brush on foods while they cook, or brush meat with oil and sprinkle herbs one hour before cooking.
  • Crush dried herbs before adding to foods.

Can I use salt substitutes?

Caution! If you are told to limit potassium in your diet, be very cautious about using salt substitutes because most of them contain some form of potassium. Check with your doctor or dietitian before using and salt substitute.

High-Sodium Foods

Salt & Salt Seasonings

  • Table salt
  • Seasoning salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Onion salt
  • Celery salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • Lite salt
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Flavor enhancers

Salty Foods

  • Ketchup
  • Hummus
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Steak Sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Crackers
  • Potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Pretzels
  • Tortilla chips
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Sunflower seeds
Cured Foods

  • Ham
  • Salt pork
  • Bacon
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles, pickle relish
  • Lox & Herring
  • Olives
Cold-Cuts/Lunch Meats

  • Hot Dogs
  • Cold cuts, deli meats
  • Pastrami
  • Sausage
  • Corned beef
  • Spam
Processed Foods

  • Soups
  • Tomato products
  • Vegetable juices
  • Buttermilk
  • Cheese
  • Canned vegetables
  • TV Dinners
  • Canned raviolis
  • Chili
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Commercial mixes
  • Frozen prepared foods
  • Fast foods