Can I Eat Italian on a Low-Sodium Diet?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q. Can I eat Italian on a low-sodium diet?

It can be a challenge to follow a special diet when dining out, but Italian food can still fit into a low-sodium diet! Your first step should be to seek nutrition information for your favorite Italian restaurants, which is the most reliable way to predict the sodium content of your meal. When that’s not an option, you may benefit from some of these Sodium Savvy tips for Italian cuisine:

  • Don’t fill up on bread before the meal; people are often surprised to learn that bread can be a significant source of hidden sodium!
  • Salads can be great veggie-packed options, but be sure to request your dressing on the side. Salad dressing is frequently high in sodium, so it’s best to be the one in control of your portion size.
  • Another major source of hidden sodium on Italian menus: cheese! Watch out for extra-cheesy entrées like lasagna, pizza, or ravioli, and use a light hand with the grated parmesan.
  • Be aware of other salty additions, including capers, olives, giardiniera, and cured meats like salami, prosciutto, pepperoni or pancetta. Sauces can also pack a lot of sodium, so you can have better control of your portion by asking for sauces on the side.
  • Ask your server if your meal can be prepared with no added salt. This won’t eliminate all of the sodium in a dish but can make a big impact!

    When you’re eating out at Healthy Dining restaurants, you’re in luck: our team of registered dietitians has already done the work for you! Just look for menu items with our Sodium Savvy designation to find the best choices for your low-salt diet.