Child and Adult Care Food Program


Although some sodium is necessary, too much sodium may contribute to high blood pressure, kidney disease, and other problems in some people. Table salt and processed foods are the major sources of sodium in food. In addition, sodium is naturally found in milk, meats, and other foods.

When little children are fed highly salted foods, they learn to expect a salty taste in all foods. It is better to allow children to develop a taste for the natural flavor of foods so that they are not faced with the prospect of having to change their tastes later in life. Since added table salt provides no nutritional benefit, it is a good policy to avoid adding salt to foods served to preschoolers.

High Sodium Foods and Seasonings Chart

High Sodium Foods High Sodium Seasonings
  • Frozen pot pies
  • Pizza
  • Salami
  • Bologna
  • Hot dogs
  • Ham
  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Canadian bacon
  • Corned beef
  • Salt pork
  • Fish sticks
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Tuna, salmon or sardines (canned in brine or oil)
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Buttermilk
  • Salted crackers
  • Commercially baked goods (pies, doughnuts, sweet rolls)
  • Pancake mix
  • Stuffing mix
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tomato juice
  • Canned vegetables
  • Frozen or canned vegetables in sauces
  • Canned or dehydrated soups
  • Salted gravies
  • Bouillon
  • Instant cocoa mix
  • Pickles and pickle relish
  • Salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Onion salt
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Meat tenderizers
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Steak sauce
  • Catsup
  • Chili sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Salad dressings

Sample STEPs for Reducing Sodium Intake

Strategy: Using the list of high sodium foods above, review and revise menus to reduce the frequency of serving these foods. For example, one simple way to reduce sodium is to switch from canned to frozen vegetables whenever possible. Keep in mind that many snack crackers are also high in sodium.

Teaching children: Using a picture recipe, have the children prepare a low sodium seasoning mix to taste on their foods at school and take home to share with their families.

Seasoning Sprinkler

  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t dried basil
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 1 t celery seed
  • 1/2 t lemon pepper
  1. Place each ingredient in a cup with the appropriate measuring spoon.
  2. Each child measures the individual ingredients into a zipper plastic bag, closes the bag, and shakes to mix.
  3. The Seasoning Sprinkler can be transferred to a small jar which has been decorated by the child. This makes a good gift for children to give their families for holidays.

Educating families: Accompany seasoning gift with the newsletter "Seasoning Without Salt," pointing out the recipe to families as it is handed out.

Planning for change: Using the information in this section, provide a training for the cooking staff that illustrates where sodium is found in the foods they prepare. Include tips for decreasing the sodium in prepared foods such as:

  • Rinsing salted canned vegetables
  • Avoid adding salt to foods during preparation
  • Using half the seasoning packet when preparing packaged foods

Be sure to familiarize the staff with the "Seasoning Without Salt" newsletter for families so that they will be able to answer any questions about salt and sodium.

Tips for Seasoning without Salt

  • Gradually reduce the amount of salt used in recipes
  • Serve smaller amounts of condiments such as mustard, catsup, relish and salad dressing
  • Do not put salt shakers on the table
  • Serve more fresh and frozen vegetables
  • When serving canned foods such as soups and vegetables, or frozen meats and main dishes, select those with lower sodium content
  • Rinse canned beans in a colander under running water
  • Use beef or chicken broths prepared with less sodium
  • Try adding other seasonings to foods, such as lemon, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and herb and spice combinations
  • Use lightly salted or reduced sodium snacks

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