Half of all Americans need to lower their salt intake. But it’s probably not the shaker you need put down. (Although it wouldn’t hurt.) It’s all the hidden salt in packaged foods we eat. Here’s how to read labels so you can make the right choice.

Front of the package

If the front of the package label says:

Sodium-free or salt-free
Each serving in this product contains less than
5 mg of sodium.

Very low-sodium
Each serving contains 35 mg of sodium or less.

Low-sodium
Each serving contains 140 mg of sodium or less.

Reduced or less sodium
The product contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular version. You should check the label to see how much sodium is in a serving.

Lite or light in sodium
The sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the regular version. You should check the label to see how much sodium is in a serving.

Unsalted or no salt added
No salt is added during processing of a food that normally contains salt. However, some foods with these labels may still be high in sodium because some of the ingredients may be high in sodium.

Back of the package

Next, check the back of the package and see what the Nutrition Facts label tells you. Check the % Daily Value (DV) for sodium. 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high. This is a great clue for identifying a lower sodium food or ingredient.