If you worry about your sodium intake, these are the best low-sodium meals to eat.
Sodium is a mineral responsible for essential functions in the body. While it can be beneficial to health, it may not be recommended for people with certain health conditions such as heart failure, kidney disease and high blood pressure. Doctors of people who are dealing with these issues may recommend that they follow a low sodium diet.
A low sodium diet may be limiting to some, but there are plenty of foods you can enjoy while avoiding this mineral. This article will have suggestions for low sodium meals that are healthy and delicious.
What is a Low Sodium Diet?
Sodium plays a major role in bodily functions including electrolyte balance, blood pressure maintenance, cellular function and hydration. Sodium levels are regulated by the kidneys based on the processing of bodily fluids.
While sodium is generally a good thing, too much of it can increase the risk of kidney disease, high blood pressure and heart disease. If you already have these conditions or if your doctor feels you are at risk for these conditions, he or she may recommend a low sodium diet.
Sodium is found in most foods, but it tends to be at higher levels in animal products and at lower levels in plant-based food. People on a low sodium diet should gravitate towards vegetarian options and avoid salt or anything that is salted.
If your doctor recommends that you follow a low sodium diet, it’s likely you will be restricted to eating less than 2000 milligrams of sodium a day. To put that in perspective, one teaspoon of salt contains 2300 mg of sodium.
What Foods Should You Avoid on a Low Sodium Diet?
Let’s start by finding out what foods should be avoided on a sodium diet. These include:
- Processed meats like sausage bacon, cold cuts and hot dogs
- Fast foods like burgers, chicken fingers, pizza and French fries
- Frozen dinners including frozen pizza and frozen meat meals
- Salty snacks like chips, salted nuts, crackers and pretzels
- Salty soups (not low sodium)
- Salted canned products like pastas, meats, fish and vegetables
- Baked goods high in sodium including croutons, salted bagels and salted rolls
- Sauces and condiments such as gravy, certain tomato sauces, salad dressing, salsa and soy sauce
- Boxed meals like mac and cheese, rice meals and other pasta meals
- Baking mixes like pancake, waffle and cake mixes
- High sodium sides such as stuffing, hash browns, potatoes au gratin and rice pilaf
- Beverages like salty alcoholic drinks, juice blends and vegetable juice
- Pickled veggies like olives, sauerkraut and pickles
- Cheese and dairy including high sodium cheeses and salted butter
What Foods Should You Be Eating on a Low Sodium Diet?
Now let’s look at foods that are ideal for low sodium dieters:
- Fresh, dry and frozen fruits
- Fresh and frozen vegetables
- Fresh and frozen meat and poultry
- Grains and beans
- Low sodium soup
- Fresh or frozen fish
- Healthy fats like avocado and olive oil
- Dairy products such as milk, unsalted butter, low sodium cheese and yogurt
- Unsalted seeds and nuts
- Bread and baked goods including low sodium tortillas, unsalted crackers and whole wheat bread
- Low sodium snack foods like unsalted popcorn, pretzels and chips
- Low sodium seasonings including garlic powder, herbs and spices that don’t contain salt
- Low sodium beverages like coffee, tea, water and low sodium vegetable juice
- Low sodium condiments including low sodium sauces and salad dressings as well as vinegar and mayonnaise
Low Sodium Meal Choices
Now that we know what to eat and what not to eat, let’s think about how to combine these items into delicious meals even a doctor would approve of. Here are some examples.
Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes
Chicken is low sodium, lean and packed with protein. Grill it up with basil seasoning. Cooked tomatoes make the perfect side. Add extra veggies if you choose.
Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Mushrooms
Tilapia and other fish are great sources of healthy fat. They are ideal for maintaining weight and boosting brain health. Add lemon pepper flavoring and you will have a melt in your mouth taste that is simply irresistible. Mushrooms and other veggies are perfect for completing this meal.
Pepper Tuna Kabobs
Ahi tuna will get you your omega-3s. Stick it on a kabob with peppers and other vegetables and grill it up as a low sodium choice at your next barbecue.
Whole Wheat Pizza
Who says you can’t eat pizza when you’re on a low sodium diet? Start with a whole what crust and add low sodium cheese and sauce. Top with your choice of veggies and look forward to indulging, guilt free.
Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes
It may be challenging to find tortellini made with low sodium cheese and sauce, but if you make it at home from scratch, you will have a meal that’s healthy and delicious. Add tomatoes to enrich the taste.
Garlic Lemon Shrimp
Shrimp is low fat and delicious. Flavor it with garlic lemon seasoning and serve it over pasta for an elegant meal that’s so tasty, you may just forget all about the sodium!
Ricotta Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms
Portobella mushrooms have a rich taste that makes them the perfect substitute for bread or meat. There is no end to what you can do with them. One suggestion is to scoop out the center and fill them with low sodium ricotta cheese. Top it with a thick slice of tomato and spinach and look forward to mouth-watering pleasure.
Summer Garden Fish Tacos
Add some spice to your taco Tuesdays. This meal starts with a base of whole wheat tacos. Add the fish of your choice as well as black beans, quinoa, peppers, corn and carrots to create a colorful meal with a kick.
Italian Chicken and Penne
This hearty meal features lean chicken, luscious pasta, green peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. Top it with a low sodium sauce and cheese and it will be simply divine.
Sticking to a low sodium diet is not easy to do. Fortunately, there are plenty of low sodium foods and meals that are healthy and delicious including the ones listed above. Which will you be serving at your dinner table?