Sodium Intake of Residents

October, 2016

Sodium or salt is a necessary inclusion in the diet of all Australians.  It is needed by the body to help regulate fluid levels.  Unfortunately the average person consumes around three times as much salt as is needed to maintain good health.  It is recommended by the NHMRC and Heart Foundation that on average, people consume less than 1 ½ teaspoons of salt each day.  A diet high in salt has the potential to contribute to high blood pressure which is a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular diet.  Many foods (wholegrains, meat, dairy) naturally contain small amounts of sodium and therefore it is rare that salt needs to be intentionally added to the diet to achieve the recommended intake.

In aged care, one of the main priorities is ensuring residents remain well nourished by consuming a healthy, varied diet.  Many residents struggle to maintain an adequate dietary intake and therefore it is essential meals are appetising and full of flavour.  Ideally salt will not be added to the resident’s meals during the cooking process, rather the food flavoured by other means.  To ensure flavour is maintained in recipes consider the following:

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  • Utilise fresh or dry herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil to flavour meals
  • Add spices
  • Add garlic, chilli, ginger to cooking to enhance the flavour
  • Lemon and lime juice will bring out the flavour of meals and also help to tenderise meats
  • Avoid cooking from jars or packets when possible instead trying to use fresh ingredients
  • Choose reduced salt products where able (eg. Reduced salt baked beans)
  • Use fresh vegetables or used low sodium canned vegetables
  • Limit the amount of processed foods served on the menu such as sausages, hot dogs, salami, pizzas, chicken nuggets
  • Place salt shakers on the table for residents to add to their own meals


If a resident has been advised to follow a low salt diet for reasons such as high blood pressure, removing any added salt will be the first step.  Following that, it is important to consider salt that may be ‘hidden’ in foods such as breakfast cereals, tinned fruit and vegetables, dairy, processed meats and salted snacks, breads, processed foods.  Ideally, if a food label is available, it is recommended to aim for less than 120mg sodium per 100g.

On rare occasions a resident may show signs of having low salt levels and a higher salt diet may be of benefit.  This may be due to conditions such as severe vomiting, diarrhoea, perspiration or loss of salt through urine.  It is recommended a high salt diet only be commenced on advice from medical staff.  Your facility dietitian can provide suggestions of how to increase a resident’s salt intake if needed.

Dietitians Australia
Aged & Community Care Providers Association

Don’t let your residents or budget experience the side effects of malnutrition or dysphagia.
Call us on 1300 850 246 or email and request a call back.

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