Your Guide to a Low-Sodium Diet
It's time to put the salt shaker back and cook with natural, more flavorful foods for your low-sodium diet.
Who doesn’t love a salty, crunchy snack? Salt seems to be everywhere in our diets from meat to soups and every processed food at the store. That can make sticking to a low-sodium diet feel boring at best and impossible at worst.
Fortunately, low-sodium cooking can be simple, full of flavor and oh-so-delicious.
Why Cutting Out the Salt is Healthy
Cutting the salt is a healthy move for just about everyone. The most common side effect of too much sodium in our diets is high blood pressure. When there is too much sodium in our bloodstreams, it pulls more water into our blood vessels. This means our hearts have to work harder to pump more fluid, and blood pressure goes up.
Salt is an easy way to add flavor to snack foods and meals but it’s not the only way. Here are some of our favorite low-sodium foods that don’t scrimp on juicy flavor.
When sticking to a low-sodium diet, always reach for fresh fruits and vegetables first. They’re naturally low in sodium and fill you up with healthy nutrients. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the recommended amount of daily sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams (unless your doctor advises otherwise).
- Fresh citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are naturally low in sodium and add bright, tart flavor to dishes without the salt shaker. A whole orange has just 2 milligrams of sodium.
- Onions and garlic and add rich, savory flavor to recipes naturally; one-quarter of onion has about 10 milligrams of sodium.
- If you’re having toast, skip the butter and opt for sweet, sticky jam instead; one serving has 20 milligrams of sodium.
- When making a sandwich, pass on the deli meats and use roasted turkey breast for just 50 milligrams of sodium. For condiments, choose low-sodium mustard for 5 milligrams of sodium instead of mayo.
- A handful of raw almonds is a great source of plant-based protein and only packs 6 milligrams of sodium – just make sure they’re not roasted with salt.
- Plain yogurt has 40 milligrams of sodium and can be flavored with jam or honey. It’s also rich in protein and probiotics.
Foods to Avoid on a Low-Sodium Diet
According to the American Heart Association, over 70 percent of our daily sodium comes from processed foods like crackers or deli meat. Avoiding processed foods as much as possible can significantly lower your sodium intake.
- Cold cuts
- Canned soup
- Processed bread
- Breaded chicken
- Tacos and burritos
Helpful Dietary Resources
- American Heart Association Low Salt Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Reducing Sodium and Fat in Your Diet
- The Heart Healthy Cookbook: Delicious Recipes for Easy, Low-Sodium Meals
- This National Kidney Foundation shares healthy recipes and ideas for low-salt flavor enhancers.
- The American Heart Association provides an online recipe database of tasty, low-sodium meals and snacks.