Today’s post is about easy swaps you can make to eat a low sodium diet. It’s the second post in a series of healthy swaps, all geared towards tweaking your diet for healthier eating!
Like sugar, which I covered in the first post, sodium is hidden in tons of foods. This means that most of us eat way more than is necessary.
Having too much can lead to bloating and discomfort, as well as more serious problems like heart disease and kidney dysfunction.
I discuss all these details PLUS how much you should aim to eat in How Much Sodium per Day is Okay?
Like I did with the first post in this series, today I’m going to tweak a day of eating for a low sodium diet. While you may not eat these foods every day, these examples should help you start thinking about the healthy swaps you can make in your own diet!
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An Example Day of Eating
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwich from Panera
Panera’s one of the good ones, right? The menu has lots of salad options, and it even has power bowls that are jam-packed with nutrients.
But it’s still eating out, and even healthier restaurants will load their foods with salt.
For example, the healthy-sounding Mediterranean Egg White Wrap from Panera still has 680mg of sodium. While it’s not very high in calories, fat, or sugar, and actually boasts a whopping 20g of protein, it has tons of sodium. Almost half your daily needs, since the American Heart Association (AHA) is starting to recommend no more than 1,500mg per day for healthy adults.
On the whole, this breakfast wrap sounds healthy. And that’s because the ingredients themselves are.
But any fast food place will add salt to make it taste better – and usually add way more than is necessary or healthy.
Instead, make it yourself!
Eggs are a wonderful, protein-rich breakfast and really don’t need any salt to taste good. Try making your own wrap with scrambled eggs or egg whites, beans, spinach, and a little sprinkle of cheese such as feta or cheddar.
Or you can make an omelet and load it up with vegetables for flavor.
Avocado toast with a poached egg on top is another healthy and delicious way to eat them. No salt needed!
An efficient option is making your own breakfast sandwiches ahead of time. With this vegetable-heavy recipe, you can freeze and warm them as needed. My only suggestions for this recipe are omitting the added salt and using just a tiny bit of cheddar cheese. A whole slice could easily have around 175mg of sodium.
Lunch: Soup and salad
Whether you have soup from a can or the cafeteria salad bar, chances are it’s bursting with sodium. Your salads likely are too, either from salted nuts, deli meats, croutons, or salad dressings.
Soup and salad should be a light and healthy meal, so let’s make a couple tweaks to ensure it actually is!
Starting with the soup, bare in mind that just because it says “low sodium” on a can or box doesn’t mean it’ll actually fit with a low sodium diet. And keep in mind that most cans of soup have 2+ servings.
But that being said, there are a few canned varieties that are truly low sodium. Health Valley is a soup brand that has No Salt Added options. These are certified by the American Heart Association and are a great option if you’re trying to lower your salt intake.
For example, Health Valley’s No Salt Added Vegetable Soup has just 45mg of sodium per serving! Their No Salt Added Tomato Soup has just 25mg of sodium per serving!! That’s unheard of!
And they have a decent amount of other soup options too. Just be sure to get their No Salt Added soups, as their regular ones do not fit a low sodium diet and not approved by the AHA.
For the salad, omit croutons and deli meats such as cubes of ham, sliced turkey, and bacon bits. Instead go for plain peas, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds. Load up on other vegetables to increase the flavor, such as bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and carrots. If you opt for salad dressing over olive oil and balsamic, make sure you use the proper portion size of 1-2 Tbsp.
Dinner: Chicken and vegetable curry with rice
It’s nearly impossible to find a curry sauce that’s low in sodium. I know because I’ve spent a ton of time looking.
For example, this Maya Kaimal curry sauce from Thrive Market has 390mg of sodium – in a 1/3 cup serving. And we alllllll know we’re not just going to use 1/3 cup in our recipe.
390mg will double to 780mg and before you know it you’ve had your daily amount of sodium just at dinnertime.
I LOVE curry, and I’ve found a homemade healthy curry recipe that bests all others!
It’s this amazing curry recipe from YouTuber JessBeautician. She posts vegan recipe videos that are some of the most high-quality I’ve ever seen. Every recipe of her’s that I’ve tried has been astounding. Her curry recipe is no exception! Just go light with or omit the salt completely to ensure you keep it low sodium – you have all the control when you make it from scratch!
While I’ve yet to find a low-sodium, store-bought curry I love, be sure to check out the sauces I have found in my post 7 Healthy Store-Bought Sauces You can Eat Guilt-Free. You’re not going to want to miss out on these!
Snacks can make or break your low sodium diet. Since it’s easy enough to get sodium from your daily meals, let’s see what we can do to minimize sodium in your snacks:
Apple slices dipped in Jif peanut butter
I used this snack example in my reducing sugar post, and that’s because Jif peanut butter is a sneaky, sneaky food.
Not only does it have some added sugar, it also has lots of added salt.
So my suggestion is the same. Go for a natural peanut butter where the only ingredient is peanuts – no oils, no salt, no sweeteners. Then apple slices with peanut butter becomes an extremely healthy snack!
Crackers can really pack a high-sodium punch.
Considering that Wheat Thins have 200mg sodium for a 16 cracker serving – which is only a stomach-rumbling 140 calories – you’re likely to eat more than that allotted serving. It would probably take twice as many crackers to make you feel full-ish.
When I’m craving crackers, I usually want something crunchy. Sliced fruits such as apples may do it here, or you could dip vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and celery into hummus (Sabra hummus has only 130mg of sodium per 2 Tbsp).
I’m also pretty impressed with the Wheat Thins Hint of Salt crackers, which have only 55mg of sodium for 16 crackers. So these would also be an excellent swap!
Chips and salsa
Every once in awhile, I’ll splurge a little and grab chips and salsa at the grocery store. It only takes one round of eating them to remember why I rarely buy them.
Not only are tortilla chips salty, so is their salsa counterpart.
Let’s say you’re eating Tostitos chunky salsa. Assuming you’re able to stick with a 1 oz serving (though I sure as heck can’t), you’re getting 250mg of sodium just from the salsa alone!
Instead, try making your own salsa. I like this recipe from Fitness Blender, but be sure to use a tomato sauce with no salt added.
Then you can either dip lightly salted chips or no salt chips into the salsa. Or better yet, try dipping veggies such as carrots, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. It’s one of my favorite snacks!
There you have it! Simple ways to tweak your eating to lower your sodium intake. Start making these healthy little swaps today!
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Due to my husband’s higher blood pressure, I don’t cook with a lot of salt and go for more from scratch options rather than processed or prepared things. I’m the one with the salt needs (I am a very salty sweat-er), so I will add a sprinkle here and there for myself.
You can definitely taste the difference between home cooking and restaurant foods where sodium use is so HIGH.
You have so much more control with home cooking, it’s true! But having worked in a cardiac rehab, I can tell you that watching that sodium at home can be HUGE in controlling blood pressure. And oh my gosh yes, restaurant food can taste so so salty after eating less at home.
I have been working towards lowering the sodium in our family’s foods as well. It’s super challenging as so many things have hidden sodium. thanks for the ideas!
That’s a great goal! You’re right, you have to be so diligent with checking labels to find that hidden sodium. So glad you like these ideas!
These are really awesome tips! It always amazes me how much sodium is in certain goods. Same thing for sugar. Foods that you would think are pretty healthy end up not being as healthy because of all the added sodium!
Absolutely right! That’s part of the reason why cooking at home is so advantageous because then you know exactly what’s in your food!