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Low-Sodium, High-Protein Foods

author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
Low-Sodium, High-Protein Foods
many varieties of high protein fish like salmon are low in sodium Photo Credit: Elena Gaak/iStock/Getty Images

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 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. 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.

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Meat and Poultry

grill chicken without salty seasonings
grill chicken without salty seasonings Photo Credit: Dmitriy Shpilko/Hemera/Getty Images

Fresh 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 1,023 milligrams of sodium and 18 grams of protein. Choose lean unprocessed meats and poultry, and roast, stew or grill them without salty seasonings.


lobster is high in sodium
lobster is high in sodium Photo Credit: Fudio/iStock/Getty Images

Fish and shellfish are high in protein, and many varieties are low in sodium. A 3-ounce serving of cooked fresh halibut, salmon or other fresh 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 water has 320 milligrams of sodium, and a 3-ounce serving of canned salmon has 420 milligrams of sodium.

Soy Products

soy milk is another low sodium source of protein
soy milk is another low sodium source of protein Photo Credit: caroljulia/iStock/Getty Images

Soybeans are nearly sodium-free, and a quarter cup of roasted soybeans, or soynuts, provides 9 grams of protein. A half cup of tofu supplies 10 to 20 grams of protein, depending on how it's prepared, with only 20 milligrams of sodium. Soy milk and yogurt are also good choices. Soybeans roasted with salt and vegetarian meat substitutes, such as soy-based burgers and vegetarian sausages, can be high in sodium.


read labels to make good choices regarding protein and sodium
read labels to make good choices regarding protein and sodium Photo Credit: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

The way you prepare food affects its sodium content. Salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon, 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.

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