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Smart Snacking: Low-Sodium Style

Smart Snacking: Low-Sodium StyleSodium and snacking are certain to be trending themes in 2013.

As consumers learn more about the ill-effects of sodium and the benefits of smart snacking – there’s no doubt going to be an increased interest in how to put the two together.

So what exactly is sodium and what does low-sodium mean?

Table salt (aka sodium chloride or NaCl) is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. So while the terms may be casually used interchangeably, sodium and salt are two different things. Sodium is the nutrient listed on food labels.

And while there are no shortage of contradicting government sodium guidelines about how much to aim for in a day, the most well-known ones are:

  • 2,400 mg per day – the daily value listed on the food label for a 2,000 calorie diet
  • 2,300 mg per day – the amount recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, unless you are:
  • African American, have diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease, and/or are 51 years or older…then stick to 1,500 mg sodium per day

To put these numbers in perspective: 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg sodium – roughly a whole day’s worth. And, according to the CDC, the average American consumes more than 3,400 mg sodium per day.

In short – we have to cut back on our sodium.

But you may be surprised to learn that the majority of sodium in our diet doesn’t come from the salt shaker. It comes from packaged, processed and fast foods. And the key to becoming a sodium sleuth, is to read your labels.

The FDA says that low salt food is one that has 140 mg sodium or less. Check out some of these smart snacking options with less than 140 mg sodium per serving:

  • Somersault Snacks – these tasty sunflower nuggets come in 5 delectable flavors, with Cinnamon Crunch and Dutch Cocoa making the low-sodium mark + 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Kind Bars – packing a whallop of nuts, dried fruits, grains and some occasional chocolate, Kind Bars are surprisingly low in sodium, with some flavors clocking in at 15 or 20 mg + 3 grams of fiber or more to boot
  • Pirate’s Booty – if you crave a crunchy puffed rice and corn snack, all of the Pirate’s Booty flavors have 140 mg or less per serving (but they do fall short with fiber at 0-1 g per serving)
  • Air popped popcorn – popcorn doesn’t have to be a salty, saturated fat-laden snack, simply make your own – get an air popper, like this Stir Crazy popper from West Bend
  • Fresh fruits & vegetables – you knew it was coming 🙂 Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium, not to mention high in potassium – and increasing the potassium in your diet may be just as effective at lowering blood pressure as is reducing sodium

So when the snack attack attacks – keep your salt in check. Look for 140 mg or sodium or less per serving – and watch those serving sizes too!

For an even smarter snacking tip – see if you can find 3 grams of fiber or more per serving.

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