Low-sodium, low-potassium and low-phosphorus diet

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Teen girls making sandwiches

What are sodium, potassium, and phosphorus?

Sodium, potassium, and phosphorus are all minerals found in your food.

Sodium helps to control blood pressure. Too much sodium (salt) may result in fluid overload, high blood pressure, and extra work for your heart and kidneys.

Potassium helps keep your heart pumping and muscles working. Too much potassium can cause your heartbeat to slow down or even stop.

Phosphorus works to keep your bones strong and healthy. Too much phosphorus can cause your bones to become weak and brittle.

General advice to reduce sodium, potassium, and phosphorus

  • You can use a small amount of salt when preparing and cooking food. The salt in most recipes can be cut in half without changing the final taste, but don’t add any salt to foods after they have been made.
  • Use herbs and spices to add flavour to your food. Avoid salt substitutes, though, because they contain potassium instead of sodium.
  • Make sure you eat more home-cooked meals. Fast foods, junk foods, and restaurant foods can be higher in sodium.
  • ​To get an idea of the saltiness of a food, look for these words on the label:
    • salt
    • sea salt
    • sodium
    • broth
    • brine
    • pickled
    • marinated
    • cured
    • smoked
    • monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Milk and milk products are high in phosphorus. Eat as directed by your dietitian.
  • Use lots of water when cooking vegetables.

Reading food labels can help you decide if a food is high in sodium, potassium and phosphorus. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, from the greatest to the smallest.

Some labels state the amount of sodium, potassium and phosphorus in a product. But remember, if sodium, potassium or phosphorus are not on the label, it does not mean the product does not contain any of these nutrients.

Always read product labels. Choose food and drink products that have the following amounts of sodium, potassium and phosphorus per serving.

​Food labels: Nutrition Facts (one serving)
Mineral Amount % Daily Value
SodiumLess than 200 mg8 % or less
PotassiumLess than 200 mg6 % or less
PhosphorusLess than 100 mg10 % or less

Low-sodium, low-potassium and low-phosphorus food choices


​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Alfalfa sproutsAsparagus, 4 spearsArtichokes
Bamboo shoots, cannedBean sproutsBamboo shoots, freshBok choi
BeetsCabbage, red or greenBroccoli; rapiniBrussels sprouts
Carrots, cooked, canned or frozenCauliflowerCarrots, raw Chinese cabbage
Celery, 1 stalkCorn, canned or frozenEndive (escarole)Kale
Corn on the cob, 3" long earCucumberMushrooms, freshPickle
Eggplant, cookedLettuceEggplant, rawOkra
Onion, green onionPeppers, sweet or hotParsleyParsnip
Potato, boiled or mashed (soaked first)RadishPotato, baked, fried, instant mash, chips; sweet potato (yam)Pumpkin
Tomato, fresh, 1/2 mediumTomato sauce (up to 45 mL or 3 tablespoons)Tomato, canned or paste
Turnip (rutabaga)WatercressSauerkraut Spinach
ZucchiniSquash (acorn, butternut, hubbard)Water chestnuts


​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Apple, 1 mediumApple sauceApricot
Berries (blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries)Cherries (limit to 10 medium)Avocado
Figs, fresh, 2 largeFruit cocktailBanana
Grapes, green or redLemon or lime juice, 15 mL (1 tablespoon)Dried fruit, including raisins, apricots, dates, currants, figs, prunes
Lychees, 10 mediumGrapefruit, 1/2 medium*Kiwi
Mandarin orange, 1 mediumMango, 1/2 mediumMelon (cantaloupe, Casaba melon, honeydew, musk)
Peach or pear, 1 medium or cannedPersimmon, 1 mediumNectarine
PineapplePlum, 1 mediumOrange
Rhubarb, 1 cupTangerine, 1 mediumPapaya
Watermelon, 1 cup or slice (4 cm x 4 cm or 1" x 2.5")Pomegranate

Breads and cereals

​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Bread rolls, croissants, muffins made with white or light rye flourPita, tortilla, chapati, roti or papseco made with white or rice flourWhole wheat, multigrain, pumpernickel, dark rye or corn bread, rolls, muffins or crackers Pita, tortilla, chapati, roti or papseco made with whole wheat or corn flour
Crackers: unsalted white and light rye, such as soda crackers, cream crackers or water crackers Melba toast, crisp pita, flat bread, rice cakes, rusks, zwiebackCrackers: salted, whole wheat, multigrain, dark rye or sandwich type crackers (such as Ritz Bits filled with cheese or peanut butter)
English muffins made with white flour Pancakes made with white flour, 3 mediumWhole wheat English muffins, pancakes or waffles
Waffles, 2 mediumHomemade biscuits, bread stuffing, coating, batter mixesCommercial biscuits, bread stuffing, coating, batter mixes
Cold cereal made with corn, puffed rice or puffed wheat (brands include Corn Flakes, Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes, Alphabits, Froot Loops, Sugar Crisp)Hot cereal: cream of wheat, cream of rice, cornmealBran, whole wheat or multigrain cereal (brands include Bran Flakes, Shreddies, Cheerios); granolaHot cereal: oatmeal, instant oatmeal packs; multigrain cereal (brands include Red River, Bob's Red Mill)
Cookies, donuts, cakes (without chocolate or dried fruit)White flourBaked products containing bran, whole wheat flour, flax, bulgur, chocolate, molasses, dried fruit, nutsFlour made from potato, soy, corn, dark rye or whole wheat; wheat germ; flax seed
White rice, white pasta or noodlesHomemade pasta dishesBrown rice or whole wheat pasta or noodlesCanned pasta; instant rice or noodle dishes (brands include Rice-a-Roni, Lipton Side Dish, Kraft Dinner)

Milk and milk alternatives

​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Rice beverages (not calcium enriched)Milk; drinks made with milk, yogurt or buttermilk
Non-dairy creamers (such as Coffee Rich, Coffee Mate)Coconut, almond or soy milk
Custards and puddings made with non-dairy creamersCustards, puddings or yogurts made with milk
Sherbet; sorbet from allowed fruit (see above); Rice Dream frozen dessertIce cream
Non-dairy whipped toppingWhipped cream, sour cream
Cream cheese, brie and soft goat cheese, 15-30 mL (1-2 tablespoons); grated Parmesan or romano cheese sprinkled on foods, other cheeses as discussed with your dietitianPaneer, queso fresco, feta cheese, processed cheese slices and spreads (such as Cheese Whiz)
Clear soups, cream soups diluted with waterSoup made with milk or cream

Meat and meat alternatives

​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Fresh beef, pork, veal, poultry, lamb, goat

*If using kosher meats, soak them in water and do not use salt when cooking them.

Cured or smoked meat such as bacon, ham, lox, herring, dried beef, jerky, meat sticks
Luncheon meat such as cold cuts, corned beef, pastrami, sausage, hot dogs, salt pork
Tuna or salmon, bones removed, canned in water or oil (rinse in water before eating)Organ meat such as liver, kidney, heart
Fresh fish (except those listed across)Fish eggs (fish roe or caviar), smelt, carp, flounder, sardines, scallops, crab
Fish, chicken or veal coated with homemade breading or batterFish, chicken or veal with commercial breading or batter
Egg whites (or whole egg, as discussed with your dietitian)Whole egg (limit)
Peanut butter (maximum 15 mL or 1 tablespoon a day)Nuts; seeds
Soft tofuFirm tofu
Beans, green or wax; green peas, snow peasBaked beans; beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas (dry or canned)


​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Fruit drink* Fruit juice
Fruit punch*Tomato or vegetable juice
Cranberry juice cocktailFruit nectar
LemonadeSport drinks (such as Gatorade, Powerade); mineral water with more than 250 mg sodium a litre (sometimes shown as 250 ppm - parts per million)
Non-cola soft drinks such as root beer, giner ale, Sprite, 7-Up, orange sode, lime sodaCola-type soft drinks such as Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper
Flavoured drink mix (brands include Crystal Light, Mio, Kool-Aid, Freshie, Tang, ThirstQuencher)Chocolate, malt or cocoa drinks and mixes (brands such as Ovaltine, Milo)
Iced teaCoffee; tea

*Avoid grapefruit juice.


​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Unsalted corn chips, nacho chips (fried)Potato chips, corn or nacho chips (salted or baked)
Unsalted popcornRegular or seasoned popcorn
Unsalted pretzelsAll other types of pretzels
Chocolate; chocolate-flavoured desserts and drinks
Carob; licorice; caramel
Coconut; nuts; seeds

Other foods

These include soups, sweeteners, fats, condiments and seasonings. Avoid salt substitutes, as they contain high amounts of potassium.

​Best choicesFoods to avoid
Homemade or low-sodium soupsCanned soup; dry soup mixes; bouillon or stock cubes
White sugar, corn syrup, table syrup, honeyBrown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, cocoa, chocolate or carob syrup
Herbs and spices (fresh or dried)Herb and spice blends that contain salt; salt, sea salt, salt substitutes
Low-sodium soy or tamari sauce (limit to 5 mL or 1 teaspoon)Soy, tamari, teriyaki or Worcestershire sauce
Ketchup; tabasco sauce (limit to 15 mL or 1 tablespoon a day)Chili or barbecue sauce; bacon fat; canned gravy or gravy mixes
Homemade oil and vinegar salad dressing; low-sodium salad dressingStore-bought salad dressing or dipping sauce (limit to 15 mL or 1 tablespoon a day)
Homemade sour cream and cream cheese dips made wtihout saltStore-bought dips; dips made from packets or dry soup mixes
Pickles; olives; sauerkraut; Brewer's yeast
Last updated: November 30th 2017