Kidney Diet Tips

Meeting lower sodium guidelines on a kidney-friendly diet: breads and cereals

The new sodium guidelines in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are out so now the quest has begun for lower sodium kidney-friendly recipes and foods that are still high in flavor. Today’s post addresses 2 simple ways to reduce sodium—paying attention to your bread and cereal choices.

First, let’s put the 1500 mg sodium goal into perspective to understand the practical application. If I reserve 100 mg sodium for snacks (easy to achieve withlow potassium fruit and veggie snacks since both are very low in sodium), I have 1400 mg sodium for the remaining 3 meals. My goal is to keep breakfast below 300 mg sodium, leaving 1100 mg for lunch and dinner. Split in half, I can eat up to 550 mg sodium per meal and still stay within the new sodium goal.

A few pointers on breads and cereals will make breakfast and lunch planning easier:

Cereal can contribute lots of sodium so finding lower sodium options is a must. Look for low sodium cornflakes, puffed wheat or rice cereal, and other cereals with crisp or puff in the name as these tend to be lower in sodium.

For hot cereals choose regular or quick cooking grits, cream of rice, cream of wheat  (instant is loaded with sodium), but hold the salt in preparation and use a pat of salted butter for added flavor—adding only 50 mg of sodium to a 0 mg sodium cereal. For more flavor consider cinnamon, low potassium fruit or a low sodium hot sauce like Tabasco® (a favorite for grits).

Bread is a ‘hidden’ sodium staple, so finding the better choices here will make a big difference in sodium. Most breads have over 150 mg sodium for 1 piece, and many have 300-500 mg depending on size (beware sandwich rolls, bagels, muffins, biscuits, quick breads, specialty breads). Check the Nutrition Facts label and ask your dietitian for product suggestions.

You can easily make your own homemade bread using a low sodium recipe such as No Need to Knead Garlic Bread (55 mg/slice). Invest in a bread machine for convenient, time-saving bread baking. If you enjoy baking, try a breakfast bread like Lemon Berry Bread (78 mg a slice). You can even make extra to share with friends or freeze to use as needed.

Finding lower sodium breads in the market requires label reading and product comparisons. Yeast breads labeled low sodium are great choices. Some pita breads are unsalted. Unleavened breads, also known as flatbreads, may include salt as an ingredient, but there’s no baking soda or baking powder to contribute extra sodium or phosphorus, so these may fit your sodium goals. Aim for 100 mg or less sodium per serving.

The newer thin buns and bagels are also a good choice for lowering sodium since you save over 100 mg sodium compared to the regular products.

Try lower sodium breads from the DaVita kidney-friendly recipe collection. My selections below are less than 120 mg sodium per serving.

An Apple a Day Muffin (117 mg sodium)

Corn Tortillas (68 mg sodium)

Flour Tortillas (60 mg sodium)

Easy Pizza Dough (68 mg sodium) makes great rolls and bread sticks too!

Jackie’s Cornbread Muffins (85 mg sodium)

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread (45 mg sodium)

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.