Getting enough protein can help you control your weight and maintain your muscle mass, and keeping your sodium levels under control can benefit your blood pressure and heart health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines high-protein foods as those providing at least 20 percent of the daily value for protein per serving, or 10 grams of protein per serving.
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Low-sodium foods are defined as those having no more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving, while very low-sodium foods have no more than 35 milligrams per serving, per the FDA.
Add these low-sodium protein sources to your diet for heart health.
High-Protein Low-Sodium Foods
1. Meat and Poultry
Chicken, turkey, beef and pork have 22 to 27 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, and they are low in sodium.
Processed meats, such as bacon, hot dogs, sausage and bologna, can have 300 to 600 milligrams of sodium per serving, although lean processed meats are still good sources of protein.
A 3-ounce serving of cured ham has 800 milligrams of sodium and 18 grams of protein, per the USDA. Choose lean unprocessed meats and poultry, and roast, stew or grill them without salty seasonings.
Fish and shellfish are high in protein, and many varieties are low in sodium.
A 3-ounce serving of cooked halibut, salmon or other fish has about 19 grams of protein and 70 milligrams of sodium. Clams are low-sodium, but some seafood, such as lobster, oysters and shrimp, is higher in sodium.
Processed seafood can be higher in sodium due to added salt. An ounce of canned anchovies has 1,040 milligrams of sodium, a 3-ounce portion of canned tuna in oil has 336 milligrams of sodium, and a 3-ounce serving of canned salmon has 346 milligrams of sodium.
3. Soy Products
Soybeans are nearly sodium-free, and a quarter cup of roasted soybeans provides 10 grams of protein. A half-cup of firm tofu supplies nearly 22 grams of protein with only 18 milligrams of sodium. Soy milk and soy yogurt are also good choices.
But soybeans roasted with salt and vegetarian meat substitutes, such as soy-based burgers and vegetarian sausages, can be high in sodium.
The way you prepare food affects its sodium content. Salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon, per the Mayo Clinic, so limit the amount that you add during cooking and at the table. Be aware of sodium from sauces and seasonings, such as soy sauce, salad dressings, marinades and sauces.
When possible, choose unsalted and low-sodium varieties, such as low-sodium cheese, low-sodium canned beans and light soy sauce. Read the nutrition labels on packages of processed foods to determine their sodium and protein contents.
Healthy Low-Sodium Foods and Snacks
When it comes to selecting low-sodium foods, label reading can help. Low-sodium foods contain 140 milligrams of sodium or less per serving, according to the University of Virginia Health System.
Vegetables are very low in sodium, particularly if you eat them raw or cooked without added seasonings or flavorings. Some canned preparations include extra sodium as part of preservatives.
Here's a low-sodium vegetable list:
In addition to being low in sodium, vegetables are a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, additional vitamins and minerals and fiber.
For a variety of low-sodium treats, serve vegetables with low-sodium dips, such as low-sodium peanut butter or low-sodium salad dressing. Snack choices include baby carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, red and green pepper strips and broccoli and cauliflower florets.
Fruits, such as apples, strawberries, watermelon, grapes and dates, all have less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Fruits contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber, other vitamins and minerals and little sodium, making them a healthy low-sodium snack option. Most fruits are naturally portion-controlled, helping to limit calorie intake.
Healthy low-sodium fruits include apples, oranges, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, berries, melon and canned fruit. Fruits can also be made into a smoothie with juice and ice for a healthy low-sodium drink to take on the go.
3. Whole Grains
Some grains can be low in sodium, but read labels when buying packaged items to determine how much is in each serving.
Packaged biscuits, cakes, cookies and instant cereals all have higher levels of sodium. Stick with multi-grain bread, whole-wheat crackers, low-sugar cereals and popcorn without added salt for low-sodium options. Combining low-sodium crackers or rice cakes with low-sodium peanut butter can make a satisfying snack.
4. Milk and Yogurt
Dairy foods provide calcium and protein. When it comes to snacking, adding a source of protein can help control hunger. Healthy low-sodium dairy foods to snack on include yogurt and milk.
Plus, milk or yogurt can also be added to a fruit smoothie to increase its protein content.
Low-Sodium Snack Tips
Snacks do not need to be limited to a single item but can include a combination of foods. Low-sodium cereal, such as puffed wheat or puffed rice, with milk is a healthy low-sodium snack.
Make your own low-sodium trail mix to satisfy your need for sweet and savory by combining unsalted nuts, unsalted pretzels, unsalted air-popped popcorn and raisins. Or, try a small whole-wheat bagel with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese or low-sodium peanut butter.
- FDA: "Sodium in Your Diet"
- FDA: "The Lows and Highs of Percent Daily Value on the New Nutrition Facts Label"
- Mayo Clinic: "Sodium: How to tame your salt habit"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Comparison Tool — Hot Dog, Bologna and Bacon"
- MyFoodData: "Cured Ham"
- MyFoodData: "Cooked Halibut"
- MyFoodData: "Canned Anchovies"
- MyFoodData: "Canned White Tuna"
- MyFoodData: "Canned Salmon"
- MyFoodData: "Dry-Roasted Soybeans"
- MyFoodData: "Firm Tofu"
- University of Virginia Health System: "Low Sodium Diet"
- MyFoodData: "Carrots"
- MyFoodData: "Broccoli, cooked"
- MyFoodData: "Whole Wheat Pasta"
- MyFoodData: "Cooked wild rice"