Skip to Content

4 Gram Sodium Diet

What is a 4 gram sodium diet?

A 4 gram sodium diet limits the amount of high sodium foods and table salt in the diet. High amounts of sodium in your diet can make your blood pressure go up and can cause other health problems. The goal of a 4 gram sodium diet is to prevent or lower high blood pressure. This diet can also keep your body from holding extra fluid. Problems with your liver and kidneys are other reasons to limit sodium in the foods you eat.

What can I do to make a 4 gram sodium part of my lifestyle?

Changing what you eat and drink may be hard at first. Think of these changes as "lifestyle" changes, not just "diet" changes. You may need to make these changes part of your daily routine. Following a 4 gram sodium diet may help to improve your health. Four grams of sodium is the same as 4000 milligrams (mg) of sodium.

  • Keep a list of items allowed on this diet in your kitchen to remind you about the diet. Take this food list with you to the grocery store to help you choose foods that are low in sodium.
  • Carry a list of items allowed on this diet to remind you about the diet when you are away from home. Tell your family or friends about this diet so that they can remind you about the diet.
  • Ask your caregiver, a dietitian (di-uh-TISH-in), or a nutritionist (noo-TRI-shun-ist) any questions you may have about your diet plan. A dietitian or nutritionist can work with you to find the right diet plan for you.

How can I use food labels to choose foods that are low in sodium?

Reading food labels is a good way to learn how much sodium is in foods. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to read food labels. Food labels list the amount of sodium in the food in milligrams. Avoid foods that contain more than 800 mg of sodium in one serving. Buy low-sodium substitutes for the foods you normally enjoy. Many foods are prepared with less than the usual amount of sodium. Following are some words about sodium that may appear on a label.

  • Sodium-free: Less than five mg in each serving.
  • Very low sodium: 35 mg of sodium or less in each serving.
  • Low sodium: 140 mg of sodium or less in each serving.
  • Reduced sodium: At least 25 percent less sodium in each serving. For example, if the food usually has 800 mg of sodium, the same food made with reduced sodium would contain 600 mg of sodium.
  • Light in sodium: Fifty percent less sodium in each serving; For example, if the food usually has 500 mg of sodium in each serving, the same food prepared "light in sodium" would still have 250 mg of sodium.
  • Unsalted, No added salt, and Without added salt: No salt is added during processing.
  • Lightly salted: Fifty percent less sodium has been added to the food than would normally be added. For example, if 1000 mg of sodium is normally added, only 500 mg would be added to a food that is "lightly salted".

What should I avoid eating and drinking while on a 4 gram sodium diet?

Breads and other carbohydrates:

  • Rice, pasta and bread stuffing mixes.
Vegetables, soup and beverages:
  • Sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, other foods prepared in brine, and olives.
  • Commercially (store-bought) prepared potato mixes.
  • Do not eat regular canned or dehydrated soups more than once a week.
  • Limit regular vegetable or tomato juice to 8 ounces (1 cup) or less each day.
Meats and meat products:
  • Smoked, cured, salted, koshered, or canned meat, fish or poultry such as bacon, chipped beef, cold cuts, ham, hot dogs, and sausage. This also includes sardines, anchovies, crab, lobster, imitation seafood, marinated herring, and pickled meats.
  • Frozen breaded meats.
  • Pickled eggs.
  • Processed cheese, cheese spreads, and sauces.
  • Salted nuts.
Fats, seasonings and other foods:
  • Regular salad dressings, which contain bacon fat, bacon bits, and salt pork.
  • Snack dips made with instant soup mixes or processed cheese.
  • Seasonings made with salt including garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, and seasoned salt.
  • Sea salt, rock salt, kosher salt, meat tenderizers, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Regular soy sauce, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, most flavored vinegars.
  • Regular snack chips.

What can I eat and drink while on a 4 gram sodium diet?

  • While following a 4 gram sodium diet, you may eat enriched white, wheat, rye, and pumpernickel bread, hard rolls, and dinner rolls. Muffins, cornbread, crackers and breadsticks may also be eaten. Waffles, pancakes, and most dry and hot cereals are OK to include. You may eat enriched rice, barley, noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas. Homemade bread stuffing is also OK to include.
  • All fresh, frozen, and canned fruits that are low in sodium are OK to include. Read labels to check how much sodium is in these foods. It is also OK to eat fresh, frozen, and canned (drained) vegetables. White or sweet potatoes and squash can also be included in your diet plan.
  • Commercial canned and dehydrated soups, broths, and bouillon may be eaten once a week. Homemade broth and soups without added salt, and reduced-sodium canned soups and broths may also be enjoyed. Fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish and most shellfish can be eaten, as can canned tuna or salmon that has been rinsed. Eggs and egg substitutes, cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and (drained) cottage cheese are also OK to include. You may eat yogurt and peanut butter, dried peas and beans, and canned legumes that have been rinsed. Read the label on frozen dinner packages. Choose those with 800 mg of sodium or less in each meal.
  • Beverages include milk, buttermilk, and all fruit juices. Low-sodium and salt-free vegetable juices may also be drank. Regular vegetable and tomato juices should be limited to one (8-ounce) cup daily. Sodas and other carbonated drinks may also be enjoyed. Butter or margarine, vegetable oils, and light, sour, and heavy cream may be added to meals and foods. You may have low-sodium salad dressings, and small amounts of regular salad dressing.
  • Read the labels on desserts and sweets. Many are low in sodium. Pepper, herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon, or limejuice may be included in a 4 gram sodium diet. You may also have small amounts of catsup, mustard, and barbecue sauce. Hot pepper sauce and salsa may be used, as well as two teaspoons or less of low-sodium soy sauce. Tortilla chips, pretzels, potato chips and other snack chips may be eaten in small amounts. Select unsalted products whenever you are able to. Popcorn without salt or salted butter may also be eaten.

What other guidelines should I follow for a 4 gram sodium diet?

  • Meals eaten at restaurants, especially fast food restaurants are often high in sodium. Some restaurants have nutrition information that tells you the amount of sodium in their foods. When ordering food at a restaurant, ask your waiter to have your food prepared with less, or no salt.
  • Check with your caregiver or pharmacist about products that may contain sodium. These products may include antacids, medicines, toothpaste and chewing tobacco.
  • Limit salt added to foods while cooking or at the table to one-half of a teaspoon each day. Talk with your physician about using salt substitutes. Some salt substitutes have ingredients that may change the way some of your medicines work.


Eating more than four grams of sodium in a day may cause your body to hold extra fluid, causing you to gain weight. It may make your blood pressure higher. Eating more than four grams of sodium in a day may change the way your medicines work.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.