Katy G. Wilkens
Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington.

You Are What You Eat: 20 tasty low-salt foods

By Katy Wilkens

Americans’ sodium intake has doubled in the past 25 years, largely because of salt and sodium preservatives added to convenience foods. About two-thirds of the salt you eat today comes from foods that have salt added in manufacturing. A quarter of the salt you eat comes from restaurants. That leaves about 10 percent for you to add to cooking and at the table.

When people tell me they don’t salt their food, I say, “That’s great! Now let’s work on the other 90 percent!”

According to a recent survey, the most common foods that add salt to your diet are: bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, salt-enhanced or fast-food chicken, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta mixed dishes, meat mixed dishes, and snack foods like chips and crackers.

Choosing low-salt alternatives to these foods could make a big difference in health care. High salt intake often leads to high blood pressure and other serious conditions, including heart and kidney disease. Reducing your salt by just a quarter could save an estimated 28,000 deaths and more than $7 billion in health care expenses a year.

Manufacturers are getting the message, too. As a result, low-salt foods are starting to be easier to find in stores. I asked about a dozen dietitians what their favorite low-salt products are. These foods come from a range of local stores. If your store doesn’t have them, ask the manager to carry them. Many stores will supply items when their customers ask.

These tasty alternatives will help you cut the “other 90 percent” of salt from your diet:

MaraNatha, Almond Butter – No Salt
Sodium: 0 mg per two tablespoons
 
Crunchmaster, Baked Rice Crackers
Sodium: 85-118 mg per 16 crackers (available in multiple flavors)
 
Minsley, Organic Cooked Brown Rice
Sodium: 5 mg per cup (just pop in the microwave)

Kirkland, No-Salt Seasoning
Sodium: 0 mg per two tablespoons
Foster Farms, Fresh Chicken
Sodium: 35 mg per ounce (this brand does not add salt water to their meats like others do)

Nanak, Paneer (fresh Indian style cheese)
Sodium: 5 mg per ounce

Black Swan, Caesar Salad Dressing
Sodium: 80 mg per two tablespoons (other flavors also have very low sodium)

Trader Joe’s, No Salt Added Marinara Sauce
Sodium: 25 mg per half cup
Tim’s Cascade, All-Natural Reduced Fat Potato Chips (Unsalted)
Sodium: 0 mg per 15 chips

Trader Joe's, Hot Chipotle Salsa
Sodium: 40 mg per two tablespoons

Rosetto, Cheese Ravioli
Sodium: 290 mg per eight squares (serve with a low-sodium sauce)

Health Valley Organic, No Salt Added Tame Tomato Chili
Sodium: 70mg per serving (many other “no salt added” soup flavors are also available)

Ener-G Foods, Sodium-Free Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Sodium: 0 mg per teaspoon (these can lower the salt in all your baking!)

Hormel Foods, Herb-Ox Sodium-Free Chicken or Beef Bouillon Packets
Sodium: 0 mg sodium per packet

Sandwich thins, almost any brand
Sodium: 80 mg per two slices

Pepperidge Farm, Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Sodium: 70 mg per slice

Culinary Circle, Sesame Water Crackers
Sodium: 75 mg per four crackers

Culinary Circle, Cucumber Dill Dip
Sodium: 135 mg per two tablespoons

Pacific Natural Foods, Low-Sodium Broth
Sodium: 0 mg per cup

Lavash flatbread, almost any brand
Sodium: 105 mg per piece (use them for quesadillas or cut up and bake for chips)

Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington.

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