Q. What level of sodium should I look for on a food label?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 24 September 2013.
Tagged: health, healthy eating, healthy heart, healthy lifestyle, junk food, nutrition, salt, snacks

Q. What level of sodium should I look for on a food label?

[THE QUESTION IN FULL]

Q. When comparing the label of a food, I am unsure what level of sodium is acceptable for a healthy diet. Please help!

A.  Salt chemically is sodium chloride and it's the sodium part that matters.  The recommended intake for adults falls between 920 to 2300 milligrams (mg) sodium a day, although the body needs much less than this to survive.

Round it off to 2000mg and that’s a handy even number as a day's total to remember when looking at labels. Note however that the average Australian consumes more than double this so we’re overdoing the sodium!

You can work out roughly how much sodium you're eating by totalling your intake from what's on food labels. A slice of bread has 130mg, a slice of ham has 400mg, a 50g snack pack of crisps 450mg and so on. 

Vegetables, fruits, oats, milk, meat and fish have low amounts, say less than 20mg per serve.

Where to look

Use the Per 100g or Per 100mL column on the right hand side of the Nutrition Panel to check how much sodium is present. Use these cut-off figures:

Foods moderate in sodium    less than 400 mg per 100 grams

Foods moderately-high         400 to 600 mg per 100 grams

Foods high                                      over 600 mg per 100 grams

By law, any product labelled 'low salt' or 'low sodium' - such as the low sodium vegetable juice pictured - must have no more than 120mg sodium per 100 grams.

Downloads / Fact Sheets

Download a free Fact Sheet on salt and how to cut down

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.