9 Best Snacks for When You’re Trying to Cut Back on Sodium
Chances are you're eating way too much salt, and most of it is coming from packaged foods—not the shaker on your dining table. Trade them in for these healthy, low-salt diet snacks that won't blow your daily sodium budget.
Apples with peanut butter
Apples with peanut butter can be great low-salt diet snacks, but you have to make sure of one thing—that the only ingredient in the PB is plain ground organic peanuts, no salt added. One tablespoon of peanut butter can have 0 mg of sodium, and one medium apple has 0 mg, too. "The apple provides you with fiber and water for hydration, and the peanut butter provides you with protein for satiety," says Keri Glassman, RD, a dietitian in New York City. Keep an eye out for the signs that you're eating too much sodium.
Nuts are a powerful disease fighter that you probably already have in your pantry. A quarter-cup serving of dry roasted almonds without added salt has only 2 mg of sodium, making almonds great diet snacks. "Nuts and seeds are a heart-healthy snack when eaten in moderation, providing your body with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats," says Tiffany DeWitt, RD, a dietitian in Columbus, OH. "Choose the unsalted variety and eat them alone or mixed into yogurt for a crunchy taste." Learn more about how nuts can help fight disease.
Popcorn makes an excellent whole-grain snack, as long as you're avoiding the butter-and-salt-filled kind. Opt for air-popped popcorn or make homemade popcorn instead. (Here's how to make DIY microwave popcorn.) At only 1 mg of sodium per cup, you can munch on this low-salt snack without any problems. "This kind of popcorn is low in calories—only 31 calories a cup—and doesn't contain any bad oils that can increase fat consumption," says DeWitt. Instead of salt, try adding herbs or nutritional yeast, which has a buttery flavor but is actually dairy-free.
Edamame alone without all that added salt only contains 5 mg of sodium per cup. Soybeans are a great source of protein, as well as a bit of calcium, iron, and vitamin C. Edamame are also a top-ranked source of plant protein for people who don't eat meat, making them top-notch diet snacks. Here are some other healthy snacks you can eat.
Raw veggies and Greek-yogurt dip
Carrots and celery sticks are much more enjoyable when you can dunk them in a savory dip, but many dips are high in salt that quickly make the snack unhealthy. "Swap ranch dressing or other high-sodium dips for a Greek-yogurt based dip to get the same filling taste, but less salt," Glassman says. One medium carrot has 42 mg of sodium, and depending on the brand, many Greek yogurt-based dips can range from 25 to 100 mg of sodium per serving. If you're not into veggies, eat your Greek yogurt with a side of berries. One serving of Greek yogurt contains only 50 to 70 mg of sodium, while a whopping one cup of berries contains 0 mg. "Get the antioxidant boost of berries and the protein from the yogurt to keep you full and satisfied until your next meal," says Glassman.
"Fruit is naturally low in sodium, so pick whatever type your taste buds desire," says DeWitt. A variety of fruits contain 2 mg of sodium or less, including strawberries and bananas. Many are also high in potassium, which could help fight high blood pressure, a common symptom of a high-sodium diet. These are the foods that can help lower high blood pressure.
Roasted chickpeas are a protein-rich snack. "Add avocado oil or coconut oil, and toss with spices like curry, paprika, and cumin for flavor and an antioxidant boost," Glassman says. Chickpeas are great low-salt diet snacks, as they only contain 6 mg of sodium per half cup. Just be sure to rinse canned chickpeas before roasting, as the liquid they come packed in is filled with sodium. "These beans are also a great source of fiber to help promote good digestion," she says. These foods high in sodium are a sneaky source of added salt in your diet.
Steer clear of store-bought versions, which can be teaming with salt, and bake your own addictive kale chips. Take a bag of raw kale, arrange it in one layer on a cookie sheet, give it a light coating of vegetable spray, and add the herbs and spices of your choice before baking or roasting at about 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Kale is a naturally low-salt superfood, with 11 mg of sodium per cup, and generous doses of beta-carotene, vitamins C and K, and calcium, among other key nutrients. Here are 5 more reasons to put kale in your cart.
Mixing in whole fruits and vegetables rather than packaged is a great way to keep your salt content down. When tossing ingredients in a blender, include foods like leafy greens, peanut butter, strawberries, banana, and avocado, and you'll be keeping your sodium intake below 20 mg, all while getting in your protein, potassium, and healthy fats. Check out these other delicious snacks that nutritionists eat themselves.