20 Tasty Low-Salt Foods

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 national survey, the most common foods that add salt to older adults' diets are: bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, canned soups, sandwiches and frozen dinners. 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:

  1. MaraNatha Natural Almond Butter — No Salt
    Sodium: 0 mg per two tablespoons
  2. Crunchmaster Baked Rice Crackers
    Sodium: 85–118 mg per 16 crackers (available in multiple flavors)
  3. Minsley Organic Cooked Brown Rice
    Sodium: 5 mg per cup (just pop in the microwave)
  4. Kirkland Signature No-Salt Seasoning
    Sodium: 0 mg per two tablespoons
  5. Foster Farms Fresh Chicken
    Sodium: 35 mg per ounce (this brand does not add salt water to their meats like others do)
  6. Nanak Paneer (fresh Indian-style cheese)
    Sodium: 5 mg per ounce
  7. Black Swan Caesar Salad Dressing
    Sodium: 80 mg per two tablespoons (other flavors also have very low sodium)
  8. Trader Joe's Marinara Sauce — No Salt Added
    Sodium: 25 mg per half cup
  9. Tim's Cascade All-Natural Reduced Fat Potato Chips (Unsalted)
    Sodium: 0 mg per 15 chips
  10. Trader Joe's Hot Chipotle Salsa
    Sodium: 40 mg per two tablespoons
  11. Rosetto Cheese Ravioli
    Sodium: 290 mg per eight squares (serve with a low-sodium sauce)
  12. Health Valley Organic Tame Tomato Chili — No Salt Added
    Sodium: 70mg per serving (many other "no salt added" soup flavors are also available)
  13. Ener-G Foods Sodium-Free Baking Powder and Baking Soda
    Sodium: 0 mg per teaspoon (these can lower the salt in all your baking!)
  14. Herb-Ox Sodium-Free Chicken or Beef Bouillon Packets
    Sodium: 0 mg sodium per packet
  15. Sandwich thins (almost any brand)
    Sodium: 80 mg per two slices
  16. Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat Bread
    Sodium: 70 mg per slice
  17. Culinary Circle Sesame Water Crackers
    Sodium: 75 mg per four crackers
  18. Culinary Circle Cucumber Dill Dip
    Sodium: 135 mg per two tablespoons
  19. Pacific Natural Foods Low-Sodium Broth
    Sodium: 0 mg per cup
  20. Lavash flatbread (almost any brand)
    Sodium: 105 mg per piece (use them for quesadillas or cut up and bake for chips)

—Katy G. Wilkens, MS, RD, Northwest Kidney Centers