Kidney Diet Tips

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Understanding sodium listings on food labels for those with kidney disease

food label               Have you ever wondered what the cutoff is for a high- or low-sodium food? Food labeling laws provide the following guidelines:

  • Sodium-free: less than 5 mg sodium per serving
  • Very low-sodium: less than 35 mg per serving
  • Low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
  • Light in sodium: sodium has been reduced by 50% compared to the regular product
  • Reduced sodium: sodium has been reduced by 25% compared to the regular product
  • High sodium: contains 20% or more of the Daily Value or over 480 mg sodium per serving

Products labeled as “healthy” must contain no more than 600 mg sodium for meal and main dish products, and no more than 480 mg sodium for individual food products.

People on dialysis or those with chronic kidney disease are usually instructed by their doctor and renal dietitian to eat a diet low in sodium. Each person has to consider their own diet goal for daily sodium intake when choosing foods. For example, for someone on a 2000 mg sodium diet gets 480 mg of sodium from a single food that is 25% of their sodium allowance. To stay within their goal, other foods eaten need to fall in the low-sodium, very low-sodium and sodium-free categories, not to eceed the 2000 mg daily limit.

To read more about Food Labeling and Nutrition, check out the FDA site. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/label.html

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.