Kidney Diet Tips

Lower sodium in processed foods: good news for people with kidney disease

The US is experiencing rising levels of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Attempts to control these diseases, which are even affecting children and teenagers, are now turning to food legislation and the food industry. Just last week the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act, also referred to as the Child Nutrition Act, was passed by the US senate as an effort to provide healthier school meals to help control obesity in children. Limits on the types of beverages and vending machine snacks in schools will follow. More attention to fat, sugar and sodium in the food supply could make a difference in the health of many people.

For those with chronic kidney disease this new focus on legislation and the food industry will bring some interesting changes. Already there is a major commitment by the food industry to reduce sodium in processed foods. While the recommended sodium goal is 2300 mg or less per day, the average American intake is over 4000 mg a day with 70 to 80 % from processed and packaged foods and restaurant/fast foods. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed lowering the limit to 1500 mg a day. Most people with CKD are already restricting sodium to 2000 mg or lower.

At my local market I am noticing more reduced and low sodium foods. What exactly do sodium claims on the food label mean?

  • Sodium free equals 5 mg sodium or less per serving as defined on the label
  • Very low sodium equals 35 mg sodium or less per serving
  • Low sodium equals 140 mg sodium or less per serving
  • Reduced or less sodium equals at least 25% less sodium per serving as defined on the label than the food to which it is being compared.

You can read labels and select those foods that are lower in sodium, fat and sugar as a way of improving your own diet and health. For people with kidney disease a lower sodium diet will help with managing blood pressure, fluid balance and thirst.

Stay tuned for more updates about how changes in the food industry are impacting people with high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or those on dialysis.

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.