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Filling your diet with low-sodium foods can help you lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, improve mental health, relieve digestive discomfort in certain conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and even prevent kidney stones. Therefore, it is essential to know what types of products are high or low in sodium to make healthy choices in what to eat every day. Plus, it always tastes better when eaten alongside a recipe!
Sodium is a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, but it can affect the body.
Did you know that people ingested less than one gram of salt each day throughout the Paleolithic period? In the past, salt was not used to flavor dishes in the same manner that it is now. Instead, humans received their salt from meat, which made up around half of their diet millions of years ago, and vegetables, which are among of the healthiest no or low-sodium meals.
Salt became a valuable commodity only when the Chinese learned that it could be used to preserve food some 5,000 years ago. Since then, global salt consumption has skyrocketed, with individuals consuming nine to twelve grams per day. Processed food salt accounts for more than 75% of daily sodium consumption. Research reveals that about 97 percent of U.S. individuals eat more sodium than the Department of Health and Human Services recommends. According to a 2016 research published in the American College of Cardiology Journal, high salt consumption is linked to an increased risk of death. So reduced salt consumption has a definite advantage since it can practically save your life.
What Is Sodium?
Sodium is a vital nutrient in the body since it aids in the normal functioning of your neurons and muscles. In addition, it regulates blood volume, pressure, and fluid balance throughout the body.
According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the amount of sodium required to maintain homeostasis in adults is 500 milligrams or less per day, which is extremely low compared to most Americans’ average sodium intake of over 3,200 milligrams.
Table salt is the most sodium-rich food. Salt is an ionic substance consisting of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. According to the University of California, San Francisco, the typical American consumes five or more teaspoons of salt per day, nearly 20 times more than the body requires. So every day, your body needs around a quarter teaspoon of salt.
So, if you’re accustomed to consuming salty meals, you may be asking how to cut your salt consumption to only 14 teaspoons. Including low-sodium items in your diet, as well as avoiding salt-laden packaged goods, may be incredibly beneficial.
15 Low-Sodium Foods to Try
Food should have between 35 and 140 mg of sodium to be considered low in sodium. Deficient sodium foods are those with fewer than 35 mg of sodium per serving. The foods listed below are not only low in salt by these criteria, but they also have several health advantages.
The following are the top 15 low-sodium foods:
- Beef Raised on Grass
- Alaskan Salmon caught in the wild
- Eggs from a Free-Range Chicken
- Brown Rice
- Fruits and vegetables
- Freshly picked fruit
- Kefir made from coconut
- Cheese made from goats
- Beans that have been dried
- Dried Lentils
- Nuts and seeds that haven’t been salted
1. Beef from Grass-Fed Cows
The salt content of a grass-fed beef patty is about 45 milligrams, making it a low sodium dish. Because it includes omega-3 fatty acids that help decrease inflammation and conjugated linoleic acid, which has cancer-fighting properties, grass-fed beef nutrition is pretty outstanding. Grass-fed beef may aid in the prevention of heart disease and cancer and the improvement of blood sugar levels, and the treatment of diabetes.
2. Alaskan Salmon, caught in the wild
The salt content of a three-ounce fillet of wild-caught salmon is about 50 mg. Because it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, minerals like selenium and phosphorus, and protein, wild salmon that hasn’t been farmed is one of the healthiest foods available. Salmon has several health advantages, ranging from bone and joint health to brain and neurological function protection.
3. Eggs from Free-Range Chickens
About 70 milligrams of salt are included in one free-range egg. Eggs have various and significant health advantages, in addition to their low salt level. Eggs include omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of heart disease, and naturally occurring carotenoids, which aid in preventing chronic diseases.
4. Brown Rice
Brown rice is sodium-free. However, it is commonly served with a pinch of salt. To add flavor, season your brown rice with a bit of salt and additional spices like cayenne, paprika, and turmeric. Manganese, selenium, and magnesium are abundant in brown rice nutrition. It’s also high in B vitamins, which help you stay energized and protect your heart.
Approximately 13 mg of salt are included in one cup of cooked quinoa. It’s typically served with salt, like brown rice, but try using just a pinch of sea salt or none at all since quinoa has a pleasant nutty taste on its own. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain (although it’s a seed) rich in protein and fiber. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a low sodium meal. Quinoa will help you feel fuller for longer, so include it in your meals to improve weight reduction.
Instant oatmeal packets may contain up to 200 milligrams of sodium, although raw steel-cut or rolled oats have no sodium when prepared at home. Oats that are gluten-free are high in fiber and protein. Oats have a low glycemic index when compared to processed grains, and they may help enhance immunity, assist digestion, and reduce cholesterol levels.
7. Vegetables that are still fresh
Fresh veggies are all low sodium foods, with some containing very little sodium or none at all. Artichokes, beets, celery, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, and bell peppers all have a salt content of less than 140 mg. Brussels sprouts, collard greens, mushrooms, and onion are all low-sodium vegetables. Choose asparagus, green beans, eggplant, garlic, cucumber, and squash if you want to eat veggies with no salt at all.
Keep in mind that adding sauce or flavor to vegetables raises the salt, and vegetables served away from home often have a higher sodium load. The best way to prepare these veggies is to bake, stir-fry, or steam them yourself, then season with a little salt and other seasonings.
Fruit has extremely little sodium by nature, so as long as it’s fresh and not kept in a jar, can, or cup, you’ll be OK. Cantaloupe, honeydew, papaya, apples, bananas, grapefruit, pears, plums, watermelon, blueberries, and strawberries are the most significant low or no sodium fruits.
Only 10 milligrams of salt are found in half of a medium avocado. Avocados are a low-sodium meal high in healthy fats, fiber, and phytochemicals that help to keep your body healthy. Avocado’s monounsaturated fats assist manage blood sugar levels and boost the health of your heart and brain, among other things.
115 mg of sodium is included in one cup of yogurt. Yogurt is a probiotic food that promotes good digestion, weight reduction, and bone density and reduces anxiety and mood swings. This low-sodium diet also enhances your immune system and helps your cardiovascular health.
11. Coconut Kefir
Coconut kefir has roughly 60 mg of sodium per cup. Coconut kefir is coconut water that has gone through the kefir grains fermentation process. It’s devoid of lactose and gluten, and it’s loaded with probiotics. Vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are among its nutrients. To improve digestion and enhance your immune system, include this low sodium item in a smoothie or porridge.
12. Goat’s Milk Cheese
Goat cheese has 40 milligrams of sodium per ounce, making it a low-sodium item that may be used in salads, omelets, and vegetable dishes. Cheese prepared from goat milk is often simpler to digest because goat milk develops a softer curd in the stomach, causing minor discomfort during digestion. In addition, I’ve discovered that goat cheese generates less inflammation and allergic responses than cow’s milk cheese.
13. Beans that have been dried
In contrast to canned beans, which often contain well over 200 mg of sodium per 100 grams, most dry beans have no or very little sodium (less than half a can). Beans are high in protein and fiber, as well as being heart-healthy, weight-loss-friendly, and diabetes-fighting. Kidney beans, fava beans, black beans, cannellini beans, adzuki beans, and pinto beans are some of the finest choices.
14. Dried Lentils
The salt content of a cup of dry lentils is roughly 12 mg. Although lentils may be found in cans on their own or in canned or boxed soups, purchasing them raw and cooking them yourself is the best option. If you choose, season the lentils with a pinch of salt while they’re cooking. Lentils have the power to help you lose weight, increase your energy, enhance your heart health, and improve your digestion.
15. Nuts and seeds that haven’t been salted
Nuts and seeds that have not been salted have no or very little sodium. Nuts and seeds are high in protein and fiber and are a good source of both. They also include vital minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron, and protective antioxidants. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds are some of the finest unsalted nuts and seeds to eat.
Low sodium meals have five primary advantages:
- Electrolyte replenishment
- Controlling bodily fluids
- Blood volume regulation
- Keeping blood pressure in check
- Muscle and nerve function are supported.
1. Make Electrolytes Available
Because sodium is one of the essential electrolytes, it must be consumed in tiny quantities to prevent hyponatremia or low sodium levels in the blood. In high heat and during exertion, hyponatremia and electrolyte abnormalities may occur. Symptoms of deficient sodium levels include nausea, headaches, dizziness, poor energy, muscular pains, and, in rare instances, seizures or coma. According to research, hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte anomaly that may lead to life-threatening problems.
Even low-sodium meals may help avoid hyponatremia while simultaneously limiting salt intake.
2. Maintain Body Fluid Balance
By eating low-sodium meals, you may keep your body’s salt and water balance in check by drawing water and ensuring that your cells and the spaces surrounding them are suitably hydrated; sodium and potassium help maintain appropriate water levels. Fluids may enter your cells if you don’t have enough sodium, causing them to rupture. Too much salt in the body, on the other hand, may induce water retention and edema.
3. Maintain a healthy blood volume
The quantity of sodium in your body impacts the importance of fluid in your blood, which is referred to as blood volume. The body constantly checks your sodium levels and blood volume, and when they get too high, the kidneys are prompted to excrete more salt. When you overeat salt occasionally, your body can manage it, but overeating sodium daily might harm your heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.
When your sodium levels are too low, your kidneys cause your adrenal glands to release aldosterone, which causes your kidneys to retain sodium while excreting potassium. In addition, the pituitary gland stimulates the release of vasopressin, which is another autonomic response to low salt levels. Vasopressin, also known as the antidiuretic hormone, allows the kidneys to store water while preserving salt.
4. Maintain Blood Pressure Control
The appropriate quantity of salt in your body helps maintain your blood pressure levels by managing your blood volume. However, when you consume too much salt, your veins and arteries get irritated, resulting in high blood pressure.
Lower salt consumption was linked to lower blood pressure, a decreased risk of stroke, and a lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease in adults, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis were done in Switzerland in 2013. Another study published in the American Journal of Hypertension indicated that a 20 percent reduction in cardiovascular and stroke events might be achieved by reducing salt consumption.
5. Muscle and Nerve Function Support
Electrical currents in electrolytes, such as sodium, cause muscular contractions and nerve impulses. These currents cause muscles to contract and nerves to communicate, allowing them to operate correctly. Muscle cramps may be caused by a lack of sodium in the body. People who are exposed to extreme heat or who exercise and lose a lot of fluids are more likely to lose sodium via perspiration and become deficient. Muscle and nerve function might be affected as a result of this.
Foods with Low Sodium vs. High Sodium
Some of the meals you consume daily are likely rich in salt. The way foods are cooked and packed makes a significant impact, so check out this list of low sodium vs. high sodium items to be sure you’re making the appropriate choices when planning your week’s meals.
- Fresh or frozen grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, organic lamb, and wild-caught fish are low in salt.
- Salted, smoked, and cured meats, such as cold cuts, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, anchovies, and sardines, contain a lot of salt.
- Unsalted nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables, sliced apples,d cucumbers, carrot sticks, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt are all low-sodium options.
- Salted almonds, potato chips, salted pretzels, crackers, and baked products are high in sodium.
Legumes and Beans
- Dry peas, lentils, and beans are low in salt.
- Canned beans and legumes contain a lot of salt.
Milk and Dairy Products
- Yogurt, coconut kefir, raw cheeses, goat milk, and cow milk are all low in salt.
- Processed cheeses, cheese spreads, cottage cheese, and buttermilk are high in salt.
Grains and Bread
- Rice, pasta, oats, quinoa, and simple bread are all low in salt.
- Fast bread, waffle, pancake, biscuit mixes, processed potatoes, rice, pasta mixes, salted crackers, pizza, and croutons are high in sodium.
Fruits and Vegetables
- All fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are low in salt.
- Canned vegetables and liquids, canned tomato sauce, pickled vegetables, olives, and packaged potatoes with sauce or additions are high in salt.
Condiments and spices
- Fresh garlic, basil, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, curry, dill, thyme, red pepper, parsley, paprika, nutmeg, oregano, lemon juice, and vinegar are all low-sodium ingredients.
- High sodium: Salt, garlic salt, onion salt, taco seasoning, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, cocktail sauce, and barbecue sauce.
Why Do You Prefer Low-Sodium Foods?
Eating high sodium meals regularly may pose several health risks. In reality, elevated sodium levels may harm your heart, kidneys, brain, and other bodily organs. For example, too much salt may induce high blood pressure and fluid retention, resulting in leg and foot edema. In addition, it may put a burden on your kidneys and damage them, diminishing their capacity to filter poisonous wastes out of the body.
When your blood pressure rises due to high salt levels in your body, it puts a burden on your arteries, heart, and brain, increasing your risk of heart attack and dementia. Therefore, reduced dietary salt consumption is one of theWorld Health Organization’s main priorities to minimize the number of fatalities from hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
Processed foods account for more than 70% of salt in a person’s diet. Regardless of what it does to your salt levels, eating a high-processed-foods diet is unhealthy in and of itself. Refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, concealed salt and sugar, and fake additives are all used in processed meals.
High sodium levels in the body aren’t caused by sodium added during meal preparation or at the kitchen table, but restaurants are much more likely to provide saltier cuisine. And, in recent decades, an increasing number of individuals have begun to dine out often.
Try making the following dietary modifications to reduce your salt intake:
- Salty packaged and processed foods should be avoided. If you’re eating packaged foods, choose low-sodium selections wherever possible. When examining food labels, seek for salt levels of fewer than 140 mg per serving on packaged items.
- Limit the number of restaurant meals you consume. Cooking at home more regularly allows you to regulate the quantity of salt in your meals.
- You may notice a change in taste if you go from salty dishes to low sodium recipes. Although you may have become used to this flavor, taking tiny measures to minimize the salt in your diet may be beneficial. Try adding a pinch of authentic sea salt to your home-cooked dishes. This allows you to limit the quantity of salt you use while still reaping the advantages of the 60 trace minerals included in high-quality sea salt.
- Spices may help to enhance the taste of your food. Garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, paprika, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, basil oregano, ginger, black pepper, and nutmeg are just a few of the spices and herbs that may enhance a meal’s taste without adding salt.
- Sodium is an essential nutrient in the body because it aids neuron and muscle function, regulates blood volume and blood pressure, and helps the body maintain fluid balance. However, 97 percent of individuals in the United States eat more salt than the Department of Health and Human Services recommends.
- Eat low sodium foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, oats, quinoa, grass-fed beef, unsalted nuts and seeds, dry beans, and yogurt to lower your daily sodium consumption.
- Eat more home-cooked meals since packaged foods, and restaurant meals are often significantly higher in sodium to lower salt levels.
- A low sodium diet will deliver electrolytes to the body, aid in regulating body fluids, blood pressure, and blood volume, and promote muscle and nerve function.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I start a low sodium diet?
A: Start by not drinking any soda for a week, eat much less salt in your diet, and drink lots of water. If you are suffering from low blood pressure or dizziness, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss this further.
What meat is low in sodium?
A: Chicken is low in sodium.
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