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Does potato salad have high sodium?

Potato salad is a popular side dish often served at barbecues, picnics, and other gatherings. It is made by combining boiled potatoes with various other ingredients like eggs, onions, celery, relish, mayonnaise, mustard, herbs, and seasonings. While potato salad can be a tasty addition to a meal, some people worry about its sodium content, especially those limiting their salt intake due to health concerns like high blood pressure. So, does potato salad have high sodium? Let’s take a closer look.

Sodium in Different Types of Potato Salad

There are many variations of potato salad, which can have very different sodium levels depending on the specific ingredients used. Here is an overview of sodium contents in common types of potato salad:

Basic Potato Salad

Made simply with potatoes, mayonnaise, and minimal seasonings, basic potato salad has about 200-300 mg sodium per 1 cup serving. This sodium comes mainly from the mayonnaise, which has about 100 mg sodium per tablespoon. If you make your own basic potato salad, you can control the sodium content by using reduced sodium mayonnaise and limiting added salt.

Deli-Style Potato Salad

Found at the deli counter, deli-style potato salad often contains pickle relish, mustard, eggs, onions, celery, and other seasonings. A 1 cup serving can contain 400-800 mg sodium due to ingredients like relish, mustard, and celery seed. Sodium varies significantly between brands.

Southern-Style Potato Salad

Southern potato salad has a distinct flavor thanks to lots of hard-boiled eggs, mustard, and pickle juice. It tends to be higher in sodium, with about 600-900 mg per cup. The eggs and brine from the pickles really drive up the sodium level.

German Potato Salad

German potato salad gets its unique flavor from bacon and vinegar. A 1 cup serving can have around 500-700 mg sodium. The bacon and salty seasoning create a higher sodium profile.

Vegan Potato Salad

Made without mayonnaise, eggs, or bacon, vegan potato salad is often lower in sodium. Substituting vegan mayo for regular mayo reduces some sodium. With minimal processed ingredients, sodium content is around 200-400 mg per cup.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

To further illustrate sodium differences between types of potato salad, here is a nutrition facts comparison for 1 cup servings:

Type Sodium (mg)
Basic Potato Salad 250 mg
Deli-Style Potato Salad 600 mg
Southern-Style Potato Salad 750 mg
German Potato Salad 600 mg
Vegan Potato Salad 300 mg

As you can see, sodium content per cup can range from 250 mg on the lower end for basic potato salad up to 750 mg for southern-style. So sodium can vary significantly between different types.

Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

To assess if the sodium in potato salad is high, it helps to look at recommended daily sodium intake. Most major health organizations recommend limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day. Some recommend an upper limit of 1,500 mg for certain high-risk populations like people 51 years old and older, African Americans, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

So a 1 cup serving of potato salad can provide 10-30% of the recommended daily sodium limit. Eating a larger portion could put you over your target sodium intake for the day, especially if you consume other high sodium foods.

Ways to Reduce Sodium in Potato Salad

If you are concerned about limiting sodium, there are some simple ways to reduce the sodium content in your potato salad:

– Use reduced sodium mayonnaise or Greek yogurt instead of regular mayonnaise.

– Rinse canned vegetables, pickles, relish, etc. before using to remove excess sodium.

– Opt for fresh herbs and spices instead of dried versions.

– Skip salty mixes and seasonings and flavor with lemon juice, vinegar, or salt-free herb blends instead.

– Limit high sodium ingredients like eggs, bacon, olives, and cheese.

– Make your own pickle relish instead of using store-bought.

– Use no-salt-added canned potatoes instead of heavily salted varieties.

– Flavor with onions, celery, bell peppers instead of pickles and relish.

– Drain and rinse potato cooking water to remove some sodium.

Following some of these tips can drastically reduce sodium in potato salad to make it a better option for low sodium diets.

Low Sodium Potato Salad Options

If you want a lower sodium potato salad, here are some ready-made options to look for:

– Simple Truth Organic Red Potato Salad (210 mg per serving)

– Whole Foods Potato Salad with Eggless Dijon Mayonnaise (150 mg per serving)

– Delallo Italian Style Potato Salad (270 mg per 1/2 cup)

– Westbrae Natural Organic Potato Salad (330 mg per 1/2 cup)

– Walden Farms Potato Salad (35 mg per 2 tbsp)

– Cleveland Potato Salad, Low Sodium (250 mg per 1/2 cup)

Look for products with less than 300 mg sodium per serving to keep potato salad within dietary limits. Homemade versions can also be tailored to be low sodium.

High Sodium Potato Salad Options to Limit

On the other hand, the following ready-made potato salad options are very high in sodium at over 500 mg per serving:

– Delallo All Natural Classic Potato Salad (730 mg per 1/2 cup)

– Piggly Wiggly Southern Style Potato Salad (640 mg per 1/2 cup)

– Members Mark Southern Style Potato Salad (580 mg per 1/2 cup)

– Whole Foods Red Potato Salad with Eggs and Country Mustard (550 mg per serving)

– Fresh Valley Classic Potato Salad (580 mg per 1/2 cup)

– Amish Classic Potato Salad (890 mg per 1 cup)

These should be avoided or eaten in very small portions if restricting sodium.

Health Risks of Too Much Sodium

It’s important to watch sodium levels because consistently exceeding the recommended limit can negatively impact health, especially related to blood pressure and heart disease risk. The risks of too much sodium include:

– Increased blood pressure – Higher blood pressure raises risks for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

– Fluid retention – Excess sodium causes the body to retain water, putting strain on the heart and blood vessels.

– Heart disease – High sodium diets are linked to increased risks of cardiovascular disease.

– Stroke – People with higher sodium intake have elevated stroke risk.

– Kidney disease – Too much sodium can worsen kidney function, especially in those with chronic kidney disease.

– Stomach cancer – Some research shows a high sodium diet may increase stomach cancer risk.

So keeping sodium in check is important, especially for those vulnerable to these health conditions. Moderating potato salad intake can be one strategy to help reduce excess dietary sodium.

Who Should Be Extra Mindful of Sodium in Potato Salad?

While everyone should limit sodium, the following groups should be particularly mindful of sodium content in foods like potato salad:

– Individuals with high blood pressure – Reducing sodium can lower blood pressure.

– People 51 years old and older – The risk of high blood pressure increases with age, making sodium of greater concern.

– African Americans – This population is more prone to sodium sensitivity, putting them at greater risk with higher intakes.

– Individuals with chronic kidney disease – Impaired kidney function reduces the body’s ability to excrete excess sodium.

– People with congestive heart failure – Extra sodium causes fluid retention, which strains the heart.

– Diabetics – Diabetics are at higher risk of cardiovascular complications, so limiting sodium is essential.

– Obese individuals – Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and blood pressure problems exacerbated by excess sodium.

– Anyone taking blood pressure medications – Sodium can reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.

For these higher risk populations, vigilantly watching sodium in potato salad and other foods is key for health.


In conclusion, potato salad can contain a moderate amount of sodium, ranging from 200-900 mg per serving depending on the type. While an occasional higher sodium meal may be fine for most healthy people, those limiting daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg or less should be mindful of portions. Certain high risk populations like those with hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or age 51+ should be especially cautious and aim to select lower sodium varieties. With some simple tweaks, potato salad can be modified to reduce sodium while still delivering the delicious flavor. Being sodium-savvy can help make potato salad an enjoyable side dish that fits into a healthy diet.