When it comes to eating healthier, sodium is one of the most common items to be cut back in diets. Lowering one’s intake of sodium can have incredible benefits when it comes to reducing risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. In fact, a study done by researchers at Harvard, UCSF, and Simon Fraser University illustrated that reducing the amount of sodium ingested by Americans could save hundreds of thousands of lives over the next ten years.
It’s important to remember that eating lower sodium foods doesn’t just amount to avoiding using salt when cooking a meal. According to many dieticians and nutritionists, 1500 to 2000 mg of sodium a day is the recommended amount for lowering blood pressure and increasing heart health.
Many people think that lower sodium foods, especially vegan ones, mean a lack of flavor, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Below are some lower sodium foods to introduce into a diet to replace some more problematic, salt-heavy foods.
Spices and More
One way to increase flavor and decrease sodium in cooking meals is to reach for the spice rack instead of the salt shaker. While some foods do need salt to cook properly, turning to other spices and toppings instead of salt and sugar filled ketchup and mustard can be an easy way to cut back on sodium.
Additionally, a product called nutritional yeast flakes can add a delicious nuttiness to any food. Especially when it comes to making vegetable dishes delicious, nutritional yeast flakes can really add some pizazz to baked potatoes and vegan popcorn.
Fill Up on Soups
Usually, canned and processed soups can be packed with sodium. However, soup is a great, quick, and easy lunch that can be made in advance and frozen to be used for many weeks. Using a lower sodium vegan vegetable broth can be a great base for soups. From there, a myriad of spices and delicious root vegetables combined with some kale and onion can make for a simple but savory vegetable stew that’s great cold in the summer or warm in the winter. Eating soup for lunch ensures that stomachs are filled and reduces the temptation of grabbing a salty snack from the vending machine at work.
Keep healthy, vegan snacks on hand. Studies have shown that just having certain foods in the kitchen or pantry can increase temptation. Replace salty snacks and chips with healthier, low-sodium vegan alternatives. Don’t just assume that because it says “vegan” on the label that it’s healthy. Reading labels is an important part of snacking healthily. Of course, when in doubt, vegetables like carrots, edamame, and celery are always going to be a low-sodium option when it comes to vegan snacks.
Drain Your Canned Vegetables
Many vegans turn to canned, pre-cooked beans when it comes to a good source of protein, but what many people don’t know is that some canned beans, as well as other canned vegetables, can have incredible amounts of added sodium as a preservative. While this may send up warning signs to some, it is possible to reduce the sodium in canned vegetables by rinsing the vegetables off with cold water in a colander or strainer before cooking. Researchers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have discovered that utilizing this method and taking one’s time when draining and then rinsing the beans or vegetables can reduce the amount of sodium by thirty to forty percent.