9 Best Heart Healthy Low Sodium Snacks
If you want to take care of your heart health, then one of the best things you can do is to incorporate low sodium snacks into your diet. Low sodium snacks can be both filling and delicious, so follow along as we learn all about sodium, heart health, and tasty snack ideas.
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Before we learn about low sodium snacks, we should first understand sodium and why it’s important (in certain amounts) in our diet.
Sodium and salt are often used interchangeably, though it is important to know that they are different. Salt (sodium chloride) is 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
What is Sodium?
Sodium is a useful tool to flavor food, preserve food, thicken food, and retain moisture.
It is used multiple ways as an ingredient. The top foods rich in sodium in the American diet include:
- Pizza, popcorn, chips, crackers
- Sandwiches, soups, breads, rolls
- Cured meats and cold cuts (deli meat)
- Chicken, tacos, burritos
- Eggs and cheese
We need sodium to survive. We don’t need a lot of sodium, but we do need a small amount to assist with essential functions such as relaxing and contracting muscles, fluid and electrolyte balance, and nerve impulse function.
The small amount of sodium our bodies need to function can mostly be found in whole foods as naturally occurring sodium.
Adding table salt to meet your sodium needs is not usually necessary unless you are an athlete, experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, have low blood sodium levels, or have a medical condition that requires you to be on a high sodium diet.
Sodium and Health
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommends that adults consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. The American Heart Association recommends an ideal limit of less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day (especially for adults with high blood pressure).
Unfortunately, this is not the norm. The average American consumes more than 3,300 mg of sodium daily and more than 80% of those aged 31 – 59 years exceed the USDA’s recommended limit of 2,300 mg of daily sodium.
It’s helpful to know the equivalents between table salt and sodium found on food nutrition labels, so here is a quick guide:
|Salt (sodium chloride)||Sodium|
|¼ teaspoon||575 mg|
|½ teaspoon||1,150 mg|
|¾ teaspoon||1,725 mg|
|1 teaspoon||2,325 mg|
|1 ¼ teaspoons||2,900 mg|
|1 ½ teaspoons||3,475 mg|
Adding salt to your foods is a choice, but sometimes our foods already contain exorbitant amounts of sodium. These types of foods include pre-packaged foods, processed foods, and foods you order from a restaurant.
Knowing about these types of foods gives us a foundation to make the next choice: choosing a high sodium food or opting for a lower sodium food.
Sodium and Kidneys
Your kidneys are responsible for controlling the amount of sodium inside your body. When you eat foods that are high in sodium, your kidneys can’t eliminate it all and the sodium builds up in your blood.
This can then lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is diagnosed when the force of blood pushing on the wall of your blood vessels is consistently too high.
When your diet includes foods high in sodium, your body retains water that you consume in an effort to dilute that sodium. This means that there is more fluid around your cells and more volume in your blood.
For example, have you ever experienced bloating or full-body swelling after eating a restaurant meal that’s high in sodium?
The higher the volume in your blood, the harder your heart has to work, and the more pressure is forced on your blood vessels. The end result is usually high blood pressure.
The good news is that research has shown that a modest reduction in sodium intake (1,760 mg per day, or better yet 1,200 mg per day) helps to decrease blood pressure in both those with normal blood pressure and high blood pressure (1,2).
Additionally, study results showed a significant drop in blood pressure in as little as 4 weeks when consuming a low-salt diet.
The results from this study help to solidify that a salt-reduced diet can help lower blood pressure and thus the chance of heart disease, stroke, and other heart conditions.
Let’s learn more about choosing foods that are naturally low in sodium.
Heart Healthy Snacks Naturally Low in Sodium
Whole foods are natural foods that have not been refined, processed, or have had ingredients added. Examples include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes
- Whole grains
- Meat, fish, and eggs
- Minimally processed cooking oils
Finding whole food, heart healthy snacks that are naturally low in sodium does not have to be a daunting task. In this article we’ll walk you through the steps to finding wholesome snacks that help keep your sodium and heart health in check.
Look at the Label for Low Sodium Snacks
Some whole foods don’t come with a nutrition facts label.
Think of a banana or a head of broccoli at your local grocery store.
Other whole foods do have a nutrition facts label and that can be an invaluable tool on your heart healthy journey.
When watching your sodium intake, you should keep these three goals in mind when checking out a whole food label:
- Aim for less than 200 mg of sodium per snack
- Aim for 350 – 650 mg of sodium per meal
- Aim for 1,500 – 2,300 mg sodium per day
Another important tip is to watch the labeling on a food item. Below you will find the common terms related to salt/sodium and what they actually mean for that food product.
|Nutrition Label||Sodium Per Serving|
|sodium/salt-free||< 5 mg|
|very low sodium||5 mg – 35 mg|
|low sodium||36 mg – 140 mg|
|reduced sodium||at least 25% less sodium than regular food product|
|lightly salted||at least 50% less sodium than regular food product|
|unsalted or no-salt-added||no salt added (but food product may still include salt/sodium)|
Tips for Choosing Low Sodium Snacks
Tip #1 is to cook from home. When you decide to cook for yourself using ingredients that you chose, you’ll be more likely to choose whole foods for your meals and snacks. Better yet, when shopping at the grocery store, try to stock your cart full of whole food options.
Tip #2 is to use alternative spices and herbs in place of salt. Some favorite salt-free seasonings include:
- Fresh herbs: basil, dill, mint, oregano, dry mustard, chives, garlic powder, etc.
- Garlic and onion: raw, minced, or powdered
- Vinegars: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, rice vinegar, etc.
- Lemon/lime juice: fresh or bottled
- Salt-free spice blends: True Lime, Lime, Garlic & Cilantro Spice Blend, Bragg, Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, Benson’s, Table Tasty, and Dash, Lemon Pepper Seasoning Blend
Tip #3 is to choose more foods labeled as: no-salt, very low sodium, low sodium, reduced sodium, and lightly salted. Being more mindful of your salt intake is a great step towards protecting your heart health.
9 Best Heart Healthy Low Sodium Snacks
When choosing heart healthy snacks that are naturally low in sodium, try to choose foods that contain all 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrate, and fat. This will help keep you satiated and feeling full for longer.
#1 Low Sodium Snack: Edamame
Edamame is a powerhouse of nutrients, and it contains all 3 macronutrients. Try them steamed with a little bit of lemon juice for a truly delicious whole food snack.
- 1 cup edamame
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Steam edamame in microwave
- Drizzle lemon juice prior to eating
9 mg sodium
#2 Low Sodium Snack: Stuffed Avocado
This mexican-inspired low sodium snack is sure to hit your cravings just right. Protein from the black beans, and healthy fats and carbs from the avocado make this a perfect mid-day snack.
- Half an avocado
- 2 Tbsp no salt added black beans
- 2 Tbsp no salt added corn
- 1 Tbsp low-sodium salsa
- ¼ tsp seasoning True Lime, Lime, Garlic & Cilantro Spice Blend
- Slice avocado in half
- Combine rest of the ingredients in a bowl
- Spoon mixture into avocado
112 mg sodium
#3 Low Sodium Snack: Pear with Low-fat Swiss Cheese
Pears are naturally a low sodium fruit, but they also have fiber and vitamins to support you on your heart healthy journey. Pairing a sweet pear with a savory low-fat cheese can be a satiating snack. Try choosing Swiss cheese as it is a great low sodium option.
- 1 medium pear
- 1 slice low-fat Swiss cheese
- Wash pear in cool water and pat dry
- Slice pear into pieces or enjoy as a whole fruit
- Add a slice of low-fat Swiss cheese on the side
42 mg sodium
#4 Low Sodium Snack: Grapes and Almonds
Fruit and nuts are a wonderful whole food, heart healthy snack because they offer sweet and savory flavors together without the added sodium – especially when you choose unsalted or low-sodium nuts.
Packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, this snack will keep you satiated and can help boost your heart health.
- 1 cup of grapes
- 2 TBSP unsalted almonds
- Wash grapes in cool water and pat dry
- Enjoy with almonds on the side
4 mg sodium
#5 Low Sodium Snack: Almond Butter Stuffed Dates
Dates, almond butter, and cinnamon make this a deliciously sweet and naturally low sodium snack. Dates are a fruit and they are packed with fiber and antioxidants. Pair them with protein and carbohydrates from almond butter for a well-rounded and heart healthy snack.
Don’t forget the final sprinkle of cinnamon to tie this snack together.
- 2 dates
- 1.5 TBSP Barney Butter, Smooth Almond Butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Slice dates in half longways
- Spread 1.5 TBSP of almond butter evenly between the 4 date halves
- Sprinkle cinnamon on top
76 mg sodium
#6 Low Sodium Snack: Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are naturally low in sodium, do not contain any cholesterol, and are a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Try the seasoned seeds below as a way to shake up your low sodium snacks.
- Open package and enjoy your low sodium snack
60 mg sodium
#7 Low Sodium Snack: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Crackers
Here we have another sweet low sodium snack. Combining sweet from the spread with low sodium crackers will likely help curb any cravings for snacks that are not as nutrient-dense or that are higher in sodium. Think of this as a healthy alternative to Nutella.
- 3 cakes of Suzie’s Thin Cakes, Corn, Quinoa & Sesame
- 2 TBSP of Artisana Organics, Hazelnut Cacao Spread
- Spread 2 TBSP of hazelnut spread evenly over 3 thin cakes
15 mg sodium
#8 Low Sodium Snack: Granola Bar
Kind Bars are a great snack option as they provide protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Try the blueberry vanilla cashew variety listed below. This granola bar offers 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and only 20 mg of sodium.
Bonus if you buy these with multiples in one box. You can plan to enjoy a few a week for snacks on-the-go or when you’re in the mood for a protein and fiber boost.
- 1 granola bar: Kind Bar, Blueberry Vanilla Cashew
- Unwrap and enjoy
20 mg sodium
#9 Low Sodium Snack: Crunchy Jicama
Jicama is a slightly sweet, nutrient-dense snack that is high in fiber and low in calories. It looks like a brown beet, but you actually eat the white inside. It looks similar to a potato but is actually a little sweet like an apple.
Sprinkle some lime juice and seasoning and you’ve got a crunchy and delicious whole food low sodium snack.
- 1 cup jicama
- 1 tsp lime juice
- ¼ tsp Mrs. Dash, Fiesta Lime
- Slice jicama
- Add lime juice and sprinkle seasoning
7 mg sodium
9 Best Heart Healthy Low Sodium Snacks Infographic & PDF
Click on the image below, or on 9 Low Sodium Snacks with 3 Low Sodium Pantry Must Haves free PDF. You won’t want to miss it!
9 Best Heart Healthy Low Sodium Snacks Conclusion
Sodium is an important mineral that we need for survival. Its top functions include: relaxing and contracting muscles, fluid and electrolyte balance, and nerve impulse function.
Many of the 9 best low sodium snacks listed in this article can be found on Amazon, Thrive Market, and Healthy Heart Market. Check your local grocery stores as well to fill up your pantry and refrigerator with whole foods that are naturally low in sodium.
Remember to choose foods that are labeled as, “low sodium,” “very low sodium,” or “salt/sodium-free” to ensure that the foods you are putting in your body are truly low sodium. Additionally, 3 daily goals for a low sodium diet include:
- Aiming for less than 200 mg of sodium per snack
- Aiming for 350 – 650 mg of sodium per meal
- Aiming for 1,500 – 2,300 mg sodium per day
Interested in learning more about heart health and how diet plays an essential role? Then don’t miss our article 7 Artery Cleansing Foods.
For more information on low sodium foods, download our FREE PDF of 9 Low Sodium Snacks with 3 Low Sodium Pantry Must Haves.
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