Best Fast Food With Low Sodium

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The best fast food with low sodium is not always what you’d expect. There are many fast food restaurants that serve some delicious, tasty and high-calorie food. Most of them are loaded with salt which makes it the least healthy choice for your diet, or if you have heart problems. The only way is to make a research of your own and find the best low sodium fast foods to eat.

Best Fast Food With Low Sodium

Sodium is a mineral found naturally in foods and also added to foods. Sodium plays an important role in maintaining normal fluid balance in the body. A low-sodium diet is important to follow in order to control your heart failure symptoms and prevent future heart problems.

  • Limiting your sodium and fluid intake will help prevent and control the amount of fluid around your heart, lungs, or in your legs.
  • When you carry extra fluid, it makes your heart work harder and may increase your blood pressure.

A low-sodium diet means more than eliminating the salt shaker from the table!

  • One teaspoon of table salt = 2,300 mg of sodium

General Guidelines

  • Eliminate the salt shaker.
  • Avoid using garlic salt, onion salt, MSG, meat tenderizers, broth mixes, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbeque sauce, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, pickle relish, bacon bits, and croutons.
  • Avoid most “fast foods” and processed foods. Check the company’s website for the nutritional information or read the package label for the sodium content.
  • Use fresh ingredients and/or foods with no added salt.
  • For favorite recipes, you may need to use other ingredients and delete the salt added. Salt can be removed from any recipe except for those containing yeast.
  • Try orange, lemon, lime, pineapple juice, or vinegar as a base for meat marinades or to add tart flavor.
  • Avoid convenience foods such as canned soups, entrees, vegetables, pasta and rice mixes, frozen dinners, instant cereal and puddings, and gravy sauce mixes.
  • Select frozen meals that contain around 600 mg sodium or less.
  • Use fresh, frozen, no-added-salt canned vegetables, low-sodium soups, and low-sodium lunchmeats.
  • Look for seasoning or spice blends with no salt, or try fresh herbs, onions, or garlic.
  • Do not use a salt substitute unless you check with your doctor or dietitian first, due to potential drug or nutrient interactions.
  • Be aware of and try to limit the “Salty Six” (American Heart Association), which include:
    • Breads, rolls, bagels, flour tortillas, and wraps.
    • Cold cuts and cured meats.
    • Pizza.
    • Poultry (much poultry and other meats are injected with sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts for sodium content or read the package for a description of a solution, for example, “Fresh chicken in a 15% solution.”)
    • Soup.
    • Sandwiches.

Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you make the best low-sodium selections. Food labels are standardized by the U.S. government’s National Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). Nutrition labels and an ingredient list are required on most foods, so you can make the best selection for a healthy lifestyle.

Review the food label below. Determine the total amount of sodium in this product, or ask your dietitian or healthcare provider to show you how to read food labels and apply the information to your personal needs.

Food Sodium | Cleveland Clinic

Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight. Limit your total daily calories, follow a low-fat diet, and include physical activity on most, if not all days in order to maintain a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet to either maintain or lose weight often means making changes to your current eating habits.

In order to make sure you are meeting your specific calorie needs, as well as vitamin and mineral needs, a registered dietitian can help. A registered dietitian can provide personalized nutrition education, tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs, and help you implement a personal action plan.

Restaurant Dining Tips

  • Choose a restaurant that will prepare items to your request and substitute items.
  • Plan ahead by reducing your serving sizes of foods high in sodium.
  • Order food a la carte or individually to get only the foods you want.

Appetizers

  • Avoid soups and broths.
  • Request fresh bread and rolls without salty, buttery crusts.
  • Avoid breaded items.

Salads/vegetables

  • Avoid pickles, canned or marinated vegetables, olives, cured meats, bacon and bacon bits, seasoned croutons, cheeses, salted seeds, and nuts.
  • Order salad dressings on the side and dip your fork in them before taking a bite of the food item.
  • Request steamed vegetables.

Main courses

  • Select meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish choices that include the words broiled, baked, grilled, roasted, and without breading.
  • Request plain noodles or vegetable dishes.
  • Ask the server about the low-sodium menu choices, and ask how the food is prepared.
  • Request food to be cooked without salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Avoid restaurants that do not allow for special food preparation, such as buffet-style restaurants, diners, or fast food chains.
  • Avoid casseroles and mixed dishes. Ask for gravies and sauces on the side or omit them all together.
  • At fast food restaurants, choose the salad entrees or non-fried and non-breaded entrees, and skip the special sauces, condiments, and cheese.*
  • Avoid breaded items.

*Avoid salted condiments and garnishes such as olives, pickles, and relish.

Desserts

  • Select fruit, sherbet, gelatin, and plain cakes.

Meat, Fish, Eggs, Poultry, Bean

  • Choose – 2-3 Servings Per Day
    • Fresh or frozen meat (beef, veal, lamb, pork), poultry, fish or shellfish.
    • Low-sodium canned meat or fish.
    • Eggs.
    • Dried or frozen beans and peas.
  • Go Easy
    • Low-sodium processed meats like ham, corned beef, bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs.
    • Low-sodium frozen dinners (less than 600 mg sodium per meal).
  • Avoid
    • Frozen, salted meat or fish.
    • Processed meats like ham, corned beef, bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs, spare ribs, salt pork, ham hocks, meat spreads.
    • Canned meat or fish.
    • Breaded meats.
    • Canned beans like kidney, pinto, black-eyed peas, lentils.
    • Frozen dinners or side dishes with salt.

Dairy

  • Choose
    • Naturally low-sodium cheese (swiss, goat, brick, ricotta, fresh mozzarella).
    • Cream cheese (light and skim).
  • Go Easy
    • Milk (1% or skim).
    • Ice cream and frozen yogurt (light and skim).
    • Yogurt (light and skim).
    • Pudding, custard (light and skim).
    • Sour cream (light and skim).
  • Avoid
    • Processed and hard cheeses (American, cheddar, muenster) and cheese spreads.
    • Cottage cheese.
    • Buttermilk.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Choose – 5 or More Servings Per Day
    • Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits.
    • Fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces.
    • Low-sodium tomato juice or V-8 juice.
    • Low-sodium tomato sauce.
  • Go Easy
    • Regular tomato sauce.
  • Avoid
    • Canned vegetables.
    • Canned beans.
    • Marinated vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickles, olives.
    • Regular tomato juice or V-8 juice.

Breads & Grains

  • Choose – 6 or More Servings Per Day
    • Low-sodium breads.
    • Low-sodium cereals (old-fashioned oats, quick cook oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat or Rice, shredded wheat).
    • Pasta (noodles, spaghetti, macaroni).
    • Rice.
    • Low-sodium crackers.
    • Low-sodium bread crumbs.
    • Granola/li.
    • Corn tortillas.
    • Plain taco shells.
  • Go Easy
    • Regular bread.
    • Bagels.
    • English muffins.
    • Rolls.
    • Cold cereals.
    • Pancakes, waffles.
  • Avoid
    • Croissants, sweet rolls, Danish, doughnuts.
    • Regular crackers.
    • Pasta and rice prepared with cream, butter, or cheese sauces.
    • Scalloped potatoes.
    • Instant cooked cereal packs.
    • Bread, baking and stuffing mixes.
    • Frozen or boxed mixes for rice, pasta and potatoes.
    • Regular bread crumbs.
    • Muffins, biscuits, cornbread.
    • Flour tortilla.

Sweets & Snacks

  • Choose – In Moderation
    • Unsalted nuts.
    • Low-sodium potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and other snacks.
    • Sherbet, sorbet, Italian ice, popsicles.
    • Fig bars, gingersnaps.
    • Jelly beans and hard candy.
  • Go Easy
    • Angel food cake.
    • Home cakes, cookies, and pies.
    • Brownies.
  • Avoid
    • Regular potato chips, pretzels, popcorn and other salted snacks.
    • Salted nuts and seeds.
    • Pork rinds.
    • Breaded meats.

What to know about low sodium diets

Consuming too much sodium can lead to excess sodium in a person’s blood. Sodium draws water into the bloodstream, resulting in a higher blood volume. This increased blood volume triggers a rise in blood pressure, which doctors refer to as hypertension.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), uncontrolled hypertension may increase a person’s risk of the following health complications:

  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • heart failure
  • blindness
  • kidney disease

Reducing sodium in the diet may help a person lower their blood pressure or prevent high blood pressure from developing.

Conditions the diet may benefit

A low sodium diet may be beneficial for people with certain health conditions. We have outlined some examples below.

High blood pressure

Sodium increases the amount of water in the bloodstream, thereby raising total blood volume. This increase in blood volume puts extra pressure on the circulatory system, causing high blood pressure.

Reducing dietary sodium may help keep blood pressure within the normal range.

Kidney disease

The kidneys help control sodium levels within the body. Poor kidney function can cause excess sodium and fluid to accumulate in the body. This fluid accumulation can lead to high blood pressure, as well as swelling of the ankles and the area under the eyes.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) advise that people with kidney disease limit their sodium intake to prevent health complications.

Liver disease

People with certain diseases of the liver may experience hypertension, along with a buildup of fluid in the abdomen known as ascites. Doctors may recommend that people with cirrhosis and certain other diseases of the liver consume a diet low in sodium to prevent or manage ascites.

Cardiovascular disease

Due to the effects of high sodium intake on blood pressure, the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source recommend that adults reduce the amount of sodium in their diet to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease.

However, studies investigating the benefits of a low sodium diet in preventing heart failure from developing or worsening have produced mixed results.

Foods to eat on a low sodium diet

One way to reduce dietary sodium intake is to consume mainly fresh foods, including vegetables, fruits, and animal products.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP)Trusted Source say that people can keep their diet low in sodium by selecting the following foods at the grocery store:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • canned vegetables or beans with a label stating that they are low in sodium or without added salt (people can also rinse canned vegetables before use to remove excess sodium)
  • frozen vegetables without added sauce
  • low sodium salad dressings and condiments
  • breads and grains that are low in sodium
  • dairy that is fat-free or low fat

People may need to take extra care to check the labeling on food products to help them opt for brands with less sodium.

It is also important to avoid using salt to season food. The ODPHP recommend replacing salt with one of these alternative food seasonings:

  • salt-free seasoning blends
  • herbs and spices
  • chopped onion, garlic, or peppers
  • ginger
  • lime or lemon juice

The NKF suggest various food and spice combinations on their website and provide recipes for several salt-free spice blends.

Foods to avoid on a low sodium diet

According to the FDA, more than 70% of sodium in the diet comes from prepared or packaged foods. High levels of sodium may also be present in foods that do not taste salty, such as pastries and cereal.

The NKF suggest avoiding the foods below when following a low sodium diet:

  • Salty snacks: These include tortillas, corn chips, and pretzels.
  • Convenience foods: People should avoid canned meals and frozen dinners.
  • High sodium sauces: Teriyaki, soy, and barbecue sauce are examples.
  • Processed foods: These foods include cheese, buttermilk, and canned soup.
  • Cured foods: Bacon, ham, and pickles are all foods that undergo a curing process.
  • Lunch meats: Lunch meats include pastrami, sausage, and corned beef.

Those following a low sodium diet may also want to be cautious when eating at a restaurant. People can ask about the sodium content of a particular meal before ordering. They can also ask the restaurant to prepare the dish without salt and to serve salad dressings or sauces separately.

Fast Food Dishes That Are Lower in Sodium

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Lower-sodium fast food items are hard to find, but it is possible if you know where to look

Taco Bell: Crunchy Tacos with Beef “Fresco Style”

Taco Bell: Crunchy Tacos with Beef “Fresco Style”

Taco Bell offers several tacos that are lower in sodium, but we suggest the crunchy beef tacos “fresco style,” which means without cheese and added tomatoes. One taco has 140 calories and 270mg sodium, so you can double up if you prefer. Be mindful of the salsas, though — they’re higher in sodium than you might think, so use them sparingly.

McDonald's: Four-Piece Chicken McNuggets with Apple Slices

McDonald’s: Four-Piece Chicken McNuggets with Apple Slices

If you prefer chicken nuggets to burgers, try a four-piece McNugget with a side of apple slices. The meal clocks in at 235 calories and 460mg sodium, but be wary of the dipping sauces offered, which can be sneaky sources of sodium and sugar. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to squeeze in a side of fries — even a small serving has 180mg sodium!

McDonald's: Hamburger with Apple Slices

McDonald’s: Hamburger with Apple Slices

One McDonald’s hamburger checks in at 250 calories and 510 mg sodium. If you think you can add cheese to that, think again — cheese adds more than 200 additional milligrams of sodium.

Wendy's: Baked Potato with Sour Cream and Chives

Wendy’s: Baked Potato with Sour Cream and Chives

If you’re looking for a filling snack on the go, Wendy’s baked potato with sour cream and chives is a great, satisfying option — and can even add in a few nutrients, like Vitamin C, potassium, and more! At 270 calories and only 55mg sodium, you’ll be satiated without tons of extra salt.

Chick-fil-A: Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Chick-fil-A: Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Grilled nuggets are your best bet at Chick-fil-A. Low in calories, you could order an eight-count grilled nuggets with a fruit cup on the side for 180 calories and 440mg sodium in total. If you love fries, you’re in luck! Order a five-count of grilled nuggets with a small order of waffle fries for 400 calories and 460mg sodium. Again, be mindful of the sauces here — one packet of Chick-Fil-A sauce will add 180 extra milligrams of sodium, so dip sparingly.

Starbucks: Eggs and Cheddar Protein Box

Starbucks: Eggs and Cheddar Protein Box

If you’re looking for a filling lunch on the go, you can’t beat Starbucks’ Eggs & Cheddar Protein Box. With two hard-boiled eggs, sliced apples, grapes, white Cheddar slices, multigrain bread, and honey peanut butter, you’ll fill up on protein without tons of excess sodium. The entire box checks in at 470 calories and 470mg sodium, so pair the box with water or black coffee.

Burger King: 4-Piece Chicken Nuggets with Applesauce

Burger King: 4-Piece Chicken Nuggets with Applesauce

At 242 calories and 495mg sodium, four chicken nuggets with a side of applesauce is a great way to satisfy your fast food cravings without racking up excess calories and salt.

Burger King: Whopper Jr. with Applesauce

Burger King: Whopper Jr. with Applesauce

Like McDonald’s, you’re better off skipping the cheeseburgers and fries at Burger King. Instead, order a Whopper Jr. with a side of applesauce, which comes out to 387 calories and 570mg sodium.

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