We previously shared how sodium can impact weight loss efforts. What we eat has a huge effect on our body, especially if it is loaded with sodium. Foods that are high in sodium are often processed, and can also be high in extra fat and sugar that pack on the pounds. Add in the high sodium levels, and our body holds onto water to help regulate sodium concentrations. Some studies also found that high amounts of sodium may impact hormones that signal feelings of fullness and satisfaction while eating, impacting how much people eat. All these reasons and more (like an increased risk of hypertension) are motivation to reduce sodium intake from the foods we eat. Here are 6 snack ideas that can help squash hunger throughout the day without throwing weight loss efforts off track.
Popcorn (but make it fancy)
Popcorn doesn’t have to be dripping with butter or powdered with salt. It takes no time at all to make. Popcorn made at home is the best option, as microwave popcorn bags are often lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and has been linked to infertility, cancer, and weight gain, as well as other chemicals that may cause harm. Making your own popcorn also allows you to control exactly what goes into the snack. Try spicing your popcorn with options like garlic and black pepper after tossing it lightly in olive oil. This pumpkin spice kettle corn is another delicious, healthy option that satisfies the craving for sweet and savory flavors. The link also shares options like cheesy popcorn (2 cups only contain 109 calories!), chocolate protein popcorn, chili lime popcorn, and even banana bread popcorn!
Spiced (but unsalted) nuts
Nuts provide many health benefits, from helping reduce pain levels, and can help reduce weight. They provide loads of protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They are also comprised of unsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol levels. Many people reach for the heavily flavored and salted varieties, unraveling almost every healthy aspect the nuts may have had as a snack. To reap the benefit of these powerhouse foods, choose plain nuts and watch the portion size- nuts are tasty and it is easy to consume several portions worth if you’re not mindful of your snack size. Want to add a little flavor? Follow the recipes below to learn how to blanch nuts (or use egg whites) to add spices like chili powder, mustard, cinnamon, and other great options!
Edamame provides many benefits, including having many vitamins and minerals, may help lower cholesterol levels, has protein to help keep hunger at bay, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and may even help reduce menopause symptoms. This recipe is delicious and a great alternative to the common way of consuming edamame, which is sprinkling them with salt, often to the point of swinging the snack from healthy to not-so-healthy. This recipe incorporates olive oil, a healthy fat, and lemon zest, and is then roasted, making this snack full of delicious flavors.
Baked zucchini chips
There’s nothing like a crunchy snack when hunger hits. But those processed crunchy snacks are usually loaded with many unhealthy ingredients like high levels of salt, saturated fat, sugar, and other unnecessary ingredients. Processed foods have also been found to increase the risk of all-cause morality. We can still satisfy our craving for crispy, crunchy snacks with this recipe that uses only a few ingredients, including Parmesan, paprika, and olive oil. Zucchini provides vitamins and minerals, and has been found to reduce blood sugar levels, helps digestion, supports eye health, and more.
Sometimes it is nice to have a snack option that quenches our thirst and also satisfy hunger. Too often, people end up reaching for sodas, coffee drinks, and smoothies that contain many calories, sodium, and fat. This delicious spiced mango smoothie is full of flavor and can be made with non-fat Greek yogurt that contains protein to give a boost of energy. It also contains turmeric and ginger, which have both been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components that help support overall health. Check out our post on healthy beverages, including this smoothie, using the link below!
Chips and salsa are a favorite snack, but some store bought salsas can have as much as two tablespoons per container. When the recommended daily amount is less than 2,300 mg of salt, or roughly 1 teaspoon, that’s a lot of sodium to consume at snack time. Homemade salsa are more fresh, have more flavor, and you can choose exactly what ingredients to include- not just the salt content- but tweaking any of the ingredients to your preference. This simple recipe only requires tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos, cilantro, lime, and maybe a dash of salt. Modify it by changing what type of onions and chilis you use (try roasting whatever variety you choose) or add garlic.
These are just a few options to keep in mind when trying to reduce sodium intake and still eat healthy, flavorful snacks. When it comes down to it, the less processed the food is, and the more the snack choice includes whole food ingredients like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes, the better it will be for your health.