Everybody craves for delicious meals. They do not necessarily have to be sweet to satisfy your taste buds. You could be craving for something bitter, salty, sour or pungent. One of the most common cravings that you may tend to have is that of something salty. Although salt is integral in our diet, it, however, has some adverse health effects.
As such, you may be asked to regulate your salt intake, and perhaps opt for salt-free snacks. Even though it may be challenging if you love salt-packed snacks, it will however save you from a whole myriad of health problems.
The problem is that it is tricky to determine these salt-free snacks, especially if you have never tried them before. Interestingly, these are common foods, only that you may not have taken note of their salt content.
These salt-free snacks vary according to their taste, texture, and calorie content. The good thing is that they are all healthy. Read on as we explore more of these snacks and recommend some you ought to incorporate into your daily menu as early as now!
How Much Salt Is Enough?
Salt is among the most commonly used spices in most households. It contains sodium and is used to season meals. Although it sounds like a necessity in our meals, it, however, can cause detrimental health effects.
For example, when you consume large sodium quantities, you increase your risk of conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. As such, you are advised to stick to a certain limit. Similarly, you are urged to opt for salt-free snacks to regulate your sodium intake.
Experts suggest that adults consume no more than 2000 mg of sodium in a day (7). The following amount is attributed to at least 5000 mg of salt daily. Similarly, they suggest that you even consume a lower limit if you have congestive heart failure.
In this case, they recommend you limit your sodium intake to less than 1, 500 milligrams a day (6). There are various methods you can apply to help you abide by this limit. They include:
Reading Your Labels
It may be hard tracking your sodium content because it is often hidden in most foods. What you can do is evaluate the sodium content of each food during grocery shopping. Here is what you need to know about the sodium food labels:
Very low sodium. If you see this, it means that this particular food has less than 35 milligrams of sodium in one serving.
Reduced or less sodium. This means that the food in question contains less than 25% of sodium than usual in each serving.
Light in sodium. Such a label indicates that this food has at least 50% sodium content in each serving.
Determining Your Sodium Intake Requirement
You will also regulate your sodium intake if you get a grip on how much you are required to consume. You should get professional help from a registered dietitian.
One can also learn how to calculate sodium intake at home. According to experts, salt is 40% sodium (8). Therefore, if the label lists the sodium content instead of salt, you have to multiply that figure by 2.5.
The answer will be an equivalent of the salt content in your food. For instance, if a food states having 1 gram of sodium, multiply this 2.5 to get the specific salt content. When you do this, you will discover that the food in question has 2.5 grams of salt.
Cooking Your meals
Cooking your meals can help you limit your salt intake, especially when you decide to start consuming low-sodium diets. It is because when you decide to eat outside, you are most likely to consume processed foods.
These include foods such as pizza, fries, and other fast foods. Most processed and prepared foods tend to have high amounts of salt and sodium additives in them (12). Hence, the more you eat them, the more sodium you end up consuming.
You can control this by preparing your meals at home. This way, you’ll be in charge of how much salt you use, the foods you use, and how you prepare your meals. You are more likely to keep away from foods that naturally contain sodium when cooking.
These include some foods like meat, shellfish, and some dairy products. While they do not contain high sodium levels, being cautious while using them helps limit your overall daily sodium intake.
Eating Salt-Free Snacks
Interestingly, most of the foods we cook also contain salt. Therefore, when we add more table salt for seasoning purposes, we increase the salt content of the overall meal. We have acknowledged that eating too much salt can be harmful to our health.
Likewise, eating too little can also be harmful. It can result in low sodium content, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, heart failure, small intestine blockage, and Addison disease (4). Therefore, make sure you never go below the recommended daily salt intake level.
Eating salt-free snacks can help you stay on track with your daily sodium intake. The best salt-free snacks to consider when you go on a low-sodium diet include:
Over time, oatmeal has proven to be a whole-grain powerhouse that keeps up with all health trends. It has numerous health benefits, which might explain why it has become a staple in most households.
Some of the benefits of eating oatmeal include (11):
- Easing constipation to its high source of soluble fiber
- Lowering your blood sugar levels
- Providing your body with antioxidants
- Promoting healthy bacteria in your gut
- Helping you feel fuller for longer, thus helping with weight management and control
- Relieving any skin itching and irritation
- Reducing your risk and chances of acquiring colon cancer
Oatmeal is salt-free, which makes it a great salt-free snack option. There are various ways you can choose to have your oatmeal. You can choose to have oatmeal porridge, some overnight oats, or oats with some toppings.
If you decide to add some toppings, remember to avoid those that contain high salt or sugar content. You can, for example, add a spoonful of honey to make the snack flavorful. Again, remember to be mindful with your portions.
Remember that you are only having these oats as snacks. One cup of cooked cups accounts for about 88 calories (1). So, measure how much you want to eat to avoid exceeding your daily energy requirements.
Carrots Paired With Hummus
Carrots are also healthy salt-free snacks that you can consider to include in your low-sodium diet plans. They may tend to have a sweet, bitter, or earthly taste. Like oatmeal, carrots too have numerous health benefits. They include:
- Providing you with beta-carotene, a compound responsible for vitamin A. Vitamin A helps in keeping your eyes healthy and protecting them from the sun. As a result, you have a lower risk of cataracts and other eye problems.
- Providing you with antioxidants that help in lowering your cancer risk.
- Boosting your immune system as carrots help in building antibodies in your body.
- Improving your heart health.
- Preventing constipation.
- Strengthening your bones as carrots contain calcium and vitamin K that are primary for bone health.
- Helping to control diabetes as its fiber helps in controlling your blood sugar levels.
Like any other snack, you also have to consider the nutritional value of carrots. A one-half cup serving of carrots has 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 25 calories (3). While eating them as snacks, it is better off if you pair them with hummus.
Carrot sticks and hummus is a healthy snack that is also very satisfying. So, grab some hummus and dip your carrots in it for more flavor and health benefits.
Strawberry Sorbet Smoothie
The strawberry sorbet smoothie is a great snack option if you want to replace your salt cravings with sweet ones. It has high sugar levels and low salt content. Experts recommend you do order yourself a sorbet if you happen to be outdoors and on a low-sodium diet plan (9).
However, if you are at home, you can prepare it yourself. You only need ten minutes to prepare a strawberry sorbet. The recipe is as follows:
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Blend your strawberries until you get a smooth puree.
- Mix the water, vanilla extract, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves in the mixture.
- Mix the strawberry puree with this mixture. Stir and refrigerate for at least four hours.
The following sorbet recipe will make a puree to fill at least 3 1/2 cups. The nutritional content for each cup is as follows (13):
- Calories- 99 kcal
- Total fat- 0 g
- Cholesterol- 0 mg
- Fiber- 2 g
- Protein– 1 g
- Total sugars- 21 g
- Potassium- 193 mg
Peanut Butter And Banana
Peanut butter and banana is a healthy snack that provides your body with fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. There are various brands of peanut butter, meaning you have to read the labels.
If you want butter with less salt content or no salt at all, double-check on the labels. Most labels will include sodium instead of salt. So, take note of this and use this sodium content to calculate the salt in the butter.
Eating this combination will give your body both proteins and carbs. If you want to switch things up, you can prepare a peanut butter banana smoothie (10). Like any other smoothie or liquid diet, remember to be cautious with the servings you consume.
Unsalted / Air-Popped Popcorn
The other item you ought to consider and ranking in this healthy salt-free snacks list is popcorn. However, it specifically has to be either salted or air-popped popcorn. These are two healthy popcorn options that contain no sugar or salt.
Therefore, consider these two picks when looking for sugar-free or salt-free snacks. If you decide to prepare air-popped popcorn, then here is what you ought to do:
- Air-pop the corn without adding any salt to it.
- You can choose to add either some tasty margarine or butter if you want to enhance the flavor. If not, you can sprinkle some grated Parmesan or some cheddar cheese.
The nutritional value of air-popped popcorn is as follows (2):
- Fiber- 5 g
- Fat- 1.4 g
- Protein- 4 g
- Calories- 122 kcal
- Total carbohydrates- 25 g
- Saturated fat- 0.2 g
- Polyunsaturated fat- 0.6 g
- Monounsaturated fat- 0.4 g
- Magnesium- 16% recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Zinc-10 % RDA
- Selenium- 8% RDA
- Folic acid- 6% RDA
If you do opt for the unsalted popcorn, then you can prepare it the old-fashioned way. You will need to:
- Pick up your ingredients. They include 1/2 cup popcorn and 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
- Pop your corn over the stove. Remember to use a healthy cooking oil option such as canola oil.
- Cover your pan but slightly leave it agape to allow the steam to escape. At no point should you add salt, regardless if it is a pinch or not.
If you prepare a one-cup serving of unsalted popcorn, then its nutritional information will be as follows:
- Calories- 160 kcal
- Fat- 6 g
- Saturated fat- 0.3 g
You can also opt to consume some Greek yoghurt when you want a snack. It is one of the healthiest, creamiest, and tastiest dairy products that you can choose to have. It has numerous health benefits, some of which include (5):
- Preventing anemia. Greek yoghurt is rich in vitamin B 12 that helps in preventing pernicious anemia.
- Improving your bone health. The yoghurt is rich in calcium, a mineral that is vital for healthy bones.
- Improving your digestive health. Greek yoghurt supports healthy bacteria that improve the abilities of your digestive system. The dairy product may also help in regulating your bowel movements.
- Improving your heart health. Consuming Greek yoghurt regularly lowers your cholesterol levels, which significantly reduces your risk of heart diseases.
- Lowering your risk of diabetes.
The nutritional content of one cup of 2% of this yoghurt is as follows:
- Calories- 150 kcal
- Protein- 19 g
- Carbohydrates- 9 g
- Total fat- 5 g
- Total sugars- 9 g
- Fiber- less than 1 g
Remember to check your portion sizes when you are consuming this dairy product. Usually, this yoghurt may contain either nonfat or whole milk. The total calories will vary depending on what milk or fat content is used. Being cautious of such can help you avoid going on a calorie surplus.
Other salt-free snacks that you can add to your low-sodium diet plan are the unsalted almonds. Almonds are very healthy and are packed with potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E. They help you in the following ways (14):
- Lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad cholesterol due to its detrimental health effects.
- Building your bones. Almonds have calcium, which helps in keeping your bones healthy. Eating almonds regularly gives your body calcium that prevents your risk of bone breaks and fractures.
- Suppressing your hunger, which helps in promoting weight loss.
- Reducing your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Improving your sleep quality, especially if eaten before bed.
- Fighting depression and anxiety. Almonds contain a mineral known as selenium that helps with this.
Remember to only consume unsalted almonds since you are going for the salt-free snacks. Similarly, regulate how much almonds you crunch to maintain your daily calorie range.
Low-Fat And Low-Sodium String Cheese Stick And Fresh Fruit
The other salt-free snack you can choose to consume is some low-fat and low-sodium cheese string alongside fresh fruit. The snack is rich in minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin C and calcium.
When picking your fruits, the key is to go for fresh ones instead of the frozen options. The best fruits to have for this recipe are the strawberries. Similarly, when buying your cheese, read your labels to determine if it contains low fat and sodium.
If you eat one low-fat cheese stick and one cup of fresh strawberries, your nutritional chart will appear as shown:
- Calories- 110 kcal
- Total fat- 5 g
- Total carbohydrates- 12.7 g
The Bottom Line
Usually, there are a lot of snacks that you can choose to have whenever you feel like snacking. They range from apples, smoothies, cheese, fruits, to some salad dressings. However, such a list tends to become smaller when you go on a low-sodium diet plan.
It becomes tricky to determine salt-free snacks that can help you sustain your low-sodium meal plans. However, not any more. We have analyzed some of the best salt-free snacks to have. They include unsalted or air-popped popcorns, carrots with hummus, unsalted almonds, oatmeal, strawberry sorbet and peanut butter and banana. Remember to consult with your dietitian to ensure you are consuming the right amount of sodium.
Sticking to a healthy diet based on your health needs, allergies and preferences is a great idea, however when combined with a workout plan that meets your goals, it might bring you significant benefits. Better mood, stronger muscles and endurance are just some.