When you need to satisfy between-meal munchies, do you automatically reach for a salty snack? For many of us it’s the bags of pretzels and potato chips that call our name from the vending machine midafternoon. But the snack favorites tend to be high in sodium, a mineral that we should be limiting in our diets. According to the National Dietary Guidelines for Americans, everyone should aim to consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt daily for better health. The American Heart Association recommends an even lower number — less than 1500 mg — to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. For most people, processed foods (like deli meat, tortillas, and canned goods), rather than excessive use of the salt shaker are to blame for exceeding these recommendations. To cut back on excess salt, try reaching for one of these tasty snacks that deliver in taste without all the sodium.
1. Apple and peanut butter
“All whole fruit is naturally low in salt, and in fact, fruits in general are high in potassium, which may help balance out the negative effects of sodium on health,” says blogger and registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends pairing a tablespoon of low-salt or salt-free nut butter with a sliced medium apple for a snack that's less than 200 calories.
2. Trail mix
People who snack on nuts tend to have a higher quality diet than those who snack on sweets, according to research published in the July 2015 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Choose the unsalted versions to skim salt even more,” advises Palmer. Try making your own low-sodium trail mix by combining 20 almonds, a small box of raisins, and ¼ cup of sunflower seeds.
3. Assorted vegetables and dip
Eating veggie-based snacks has also been linked to a healthier weight. Pair raw veggies like baby carrots, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, radishes, red bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes with two tablespoons of low-fat, low-salt dressing or a Greek-yogurt based dip, and you've got a filling low-sodium snack that comes in under 200 calories. “Veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, plus they are naturally low in sodium,” Palmer says.
4. Roasted chickpeas
“Not only are chickpeas a nutrient-dense food, providing protein, dietary fiber, folate, iron, and phosphorus, but roasting them with a mix of exotic spices turns them into a kind of savory candy,” says Eve Fox, a food and health blogger. Rinse a can of garbanzo beans (to eliminate some of the sodium), toss them in oil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, she advises. Then toss with a mix of any low- or no-salt seasonings of your choice. Try curry powder, paprika, cumin, or chili powder for a spicy kick.
5. Fruit smoothie
Smoothies are naturally low in sodium, plus when you make them at home, you’re able to control the fat and sugar content. Smoothies also make great to-go snacks, says Palmer. For a healthy, satisfying smoothie, blend one cup of dairy plant-based milk, one cup of fruits and/or veggies (we love pumpkin this season!), and a teaspoon of a low-sodium nut butter.
6. Kale chips
“Kale is a superfood, packed with beta-carotene, vitamins C and K, calcium, and other goodies," says Fox. "It’s delicious in salads, soups, and stews, but it's probably most addictive in chip form." Season kale leaves with your choice of herbs and spices and bake for 15 to 25 minutes at 250 degrees. Fox also recommends experimenting with more exotic flavors like maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.
7. Spiced popcorn
When the hankering for a movie-night snack arises, toss the bag of processed buttered popcorn (which tends to be high in salt and fat) and go homemade. With a blend of spices including a little peppery heat and just a hint of salt, you won’t notice that your snack is a reduced-sodium treat. Simply spray plain air-popped popcorn with a little oil and toss with your favorite spice combination.
Taking time to savor your snack enables you to feel fuller and more satisfied, according to July 2015 research published in Physiology and Behavior. What better way to slow down and enjoy snack time than by pairing a skim latte or cup of tea with a savory biscotti? Making a batch at home will help you control fat and sugar levels. Try a tarragon biscotti or a sun-dried tomato biscotti — both have under 100 mg of sodium. Make a batch, store in an airtight container, and munch away.
9. Yogurt parfait
If you’re craving something sweet and creamy, put together a parfait. Simply layer spoonfuls of plain low- or no-fat Greek yogurt with ripe fruit slices or fresh fruit puree. Parfaits are a tasty way to combine flavors and textures that make them a satisfying snack. For variety, sprinkle chopped, unsalted nuts between the layers. The combo also makes a great breakfast option!
10. Soup and crackers
A cup of tomato soup and five whole-wheat crackers is a great go-to savory snack especially during the cold winter months. Just be sure to check the labels closely and choose low-sodium varieties when buying canned soups and low-salt or salt-free crackers. Even better, whip up your own homemade soup so that you can control the amount of added salt — divide it into one-cup containers for easy, low-calorie and low-sodium snacking.
10 Satisfying Low-Sodium Snacks was originally published on Everyday Health.
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