Do you feel frustrated looking for low sodium, heart healthy snack options? It can feel like salt is the feature ingredient in snack foods! And going to the grocery store, pouring through the snack aisle, and reading all of the labels is time-consuming. Don’t worry. I did the work for you and organized it into this low sodium snack guide, so you can satisfy your snack cravings in the healthiest way.
The Need for Low Sodium Snacks
If you have heart failure, you likely have been told to limit sodium intake. A low sodium diet is often recommended for those with heart, liver, and kidney problems. From a nutritionist’s perspective, keeping your sodium in check is a good idea for everyone. High sodium intake is a major risk factor for heart disease and high blood pressure. Since nearly everyone can benefit from decreasing the sodium in their foods, be sure to share this article far and wide.
And be sure to check out my article Six Tips for Heart Failure Nutrition—Getting Started for the best diet for heart failure patients.
What Do I Look for in Low Sodium Snack?
To sum it up, I look for snacks that are healthy, convenient, and good tasting–with flavors and textures that will satisfy your craving!
It is important to this blog that the products I suggest are readily available and reasonably priced. I look for products that are found in stores like Walmart, Target, and mainstream grocery stores–keeping in mind that these can be regional. I also look to see if a product is available on Amazon.
If you have a small family-owned business where you like to shop, and it doesn’t have one of my listed items, ask them if they will stock the product for you. Most owners are happy to accommodate, especially if it means getting more of your business!
If you find a snack food from a fabulous local or home-based company, check the labels. If the product doesn’t have a nutrition label, get in touch with the owner and ask about the ingredients. They will likely be happy to help.
Heart Healthy, Low in Added Sugars, and Low in Sodium
I look for snacks that have no more than 140mg of sodium per serving. I also check the label to make sure the serving size is reasonable. For example, 1 oz of almonds (28g) is generally a reasonable snack serving size, but “8 almonds” is not.
I look for items that are generally heart healthy. You won’t find me recommending foods high in animal fats or unhealthy plant oils! The one exception is my section on higher fat chips, and I clearly designate them so you know what you are getting.
I look for relatively low fat, whole or minimally processed foods, with minimal or zero grams saturated fat. For higher fat items, I look for naturally occurring plant fat sources like nuts, and snacks with zero trans fats.
This would be an easy article to write if I wasn’t worried about sugars! So many sugary snacks are low in sodium. But, as a nutrition expert, I keep my eye on the added sugars.
Naturally occurring fruit sugars are not a problem.
Naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruits are not a problem.
Fruits have many health benefits, and it makes me sad to see anyone avoid fruit due to sugar!
For added sugars, I look for less than 5g of added sugars per 100 calories. So for some of my higher calorie bars, you may see 8 or 9g of added sugars for the serving. While this isn’t perfect, if the majority of your diet is whole foods, there is a bit of wiggle room with snacks.
I avoided snacks with sugar alcohols as these can sometimes cause stomach upset. I do recognize that sugar alcohols are well tolerated by some, but I decided to keep them out of this list.
Are There Any “No Salt” Snacks?
Yes! There are Sodium Free Snacks.
While all fruits and vegetables fall into the low sodium category, many fruits and vegetables are considered sodium free as they contain only trace amounts of naturally occurring sodium. Here are some that also make good snacks!
- Green beans
- Most berries–blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
I also came across packaged snacks that had 5mg or less per serving listed. These are pretty much “no sodium” in my book.
Many snacks are listed as unsalted. It is still important to read the label, as not all foods listed as unsalted are sodium free! The Unsalted Pretzels are a good example of this, with 80mg of sodium per serving. This is sodium likely used in the baking process and the term “unsalted” means the pretzels do not have salt added as a topping.
The labels below compare unsalted peanuts which have 0mg of sodium to unsalted pretzels which contain 80mg. Both fit into the low sodium category, but only the peanuts are sodium free.
Crunchy Low Sodium Snacks (Because we all love to crunch!)
Lower Fat Crunchy Snacks
Utz Pretzels Sourdough Specials Unsalted—5 pretzels 110kcals, 80mg Sodium, 1.5g fat
I love a really crunchy pretzel. And Utz makes some of the crunchiest pretzels I’ve tried. Eat them on their own, or with a sandwich. They’re also good with peanut butter.
Hapi Wasabi Peas—1oz. (28g) 140kcals, 85mg sodium, 4g fat (Don’t get the HOT wasabi as these have 350mg sodium!) If you need a whole lot of flavor to feel satisfied, these are for you. You won’t miss the sodium at all as the sharp wasabi flavor dances on your tongue.
Triscuit Hint of Sea Salt—6 crackers 120kcals, 50mg sodium, 3.5g fat
Hands down, this is a delicious cracker. The texture and crunch are great, and the light salty taste is plenty satisfying. They do have a relatively small serving size, so keep your eye on that as these are addictive.
Harvest Snap Baked Green Pea Snacks–Lightly Salted—1oz (28g) 130kcals, 75mg sodium, 5g fat
Peas are underappreciated, and so are these crisps. They have a great flavor, and the 5g of protein per serving is an added bonus.
Whole Grain Wheat Thins—16 crackers 140kcals, 55mg sodium, 5g fat
Wheat thins have a nutty flavor that make them a crowd favorite. Have Wheat Thins as a snack or as a side to chili, soups, and stews. I also like the relatively large serving size of 16 crackers.
365 by Whole Foods No Salt or Oil Added, Microwave Popcorn–1 cup popped 25kcals, 0mg sodium, minimal fats
If you are looking for the convenience of microwave popcorn, this is the best option out there because NOTHING is added. Eat it plain or add your own toppings. Of course, you can always buy popcorn kernels and pop them in a pot or an air fryer.
Soybeans are really really good for you! And they have been shown to improve heart health. If you want to read more about the health benefits of soy, here is a great article: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/soybeans#nutrition
Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame Sea Salt—1/3c (30g) 130kcals, 140mg sodium, 5g fat,
These come in right at the top of my cutoff for a low sodium food. They are delicious and give you an added bonus of 6g of fiber and 14g protein! These come in individual packets as well as larger containers.
Sincerely Nuts Roasted Soybeans Unsalted—1oz. (28g) 140kcals, 0mg sodium, 7g fat
These are plain and unsalted, super nutritious with a very nice crunch! The fiber and protein really fill you up! If they are too plain for you, mix with the Seapoint Farms Sea Salt version end up with about 70mg sodium per serving.
Higher Fat Crunchy Snacks (*Not Exactly Heart Healthy!)
This category has my favorite low salt and unsalted chips. They are higher in fat as they are fried, so keep an eye on portions. And I really can’t call these heart healthy as they are too high in fats from oils for that designation.
I’ve included these anyway because people always ask me about chips. And, there is room in your nutrition plan for an occasional treat! So, if you are going to indulge, know what’s out there in the low sodium category.
- Don’t sit on the couch with a giant bag of chips! Take what you want out of the bag and then put the bag away.
- Try pairing higher-fat snacks with fresh vegetables so you are not tempted to overdo it.
Kettle Unsalted Potato Chips—1oz. (28g) 150kcals, 0mg sodium, 9g fat
These are a bit thicker and have a great crunch! (Fried in safflower and canola oil.)
Lays Lightly Salted Potato Chips—1oz.(28g) 160kcals, 85mg sodium, 10g fat
They have a nice light salty taste and really satisfy your taste buds. Just watch the portions as the sodium can add up. (Fried in vegetable oil)
Terra Vegetable Chips—1oz. (28g) 150kcals, 115mg sodium, 9g fat
Terra chips are crunchy and decadent. The colors and crunch make them a favorite. They are at the higher end for sodium though. (Fried in safflower and canola oil.)
Sanitas White Corn Chips—1oz. (28g) ~9 chips 140kcals, 115mg sodium, 6g fat
I was pleasantly surprised that there is a good tortilla chip option. In fact, quite a few brands fell into this category and overall, these chips were not as salty as I thought. I listed my favorite! (Fried in vegetable oil.)
If you like flavor in your chips and find the no salt chips bland, sprinkle a little smoked paprika, pepper, or other seasonings on them when you portion out your serving.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables make great snacks. They are all naturally low in sodium. Many come in convenient carrying packages–their own skin! Others can be cleaned, cut into bite-sized pieces, and put in a small container or bag to store for later or bring with you when you are out of the house.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Carrot and Celery Sticks
- Cauliflower and Broccoli Florets
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Fresh Berries
- Mini Cucumbers
- Oranges and Tangerines
- Snap Peas
- Red Pepper Slices
There are a lot of benefits to dried fruit.
Dried fruits are a great source of iron and fiber.
They are portable and have a long shelf life.
They pair well with unsalted nuts.
If you live near Trader Joe’s, check out their huge variety of dried fruit at pretty good prices!
That being said, they can be higher in calories. Keep your serving size to ~¼ cup or so. All of the water of the natural fruit is removed, so serving sizes are smaller. Work your way through this list and give them all a try.
*Always always always buy dried fruits with NO sugar, oils, or salt added. So many brands have sugar and salt added!
Packaged Fruit Snacks
The packaged fruit snacks I recommend are Bare Chips. They are not fried and do not have added sugar. Most other brands I found have sugar, salt, and/or oil, but Bare snacks are just the fruit!
Try Bare Apple Crunch Cinnamon with 110kcals for a ½ cup, and Bare Banana Baked Crunchy with 120kcals for a ½ cup. Both are sodium free, not fried, and have zero added sugars.
Many grocery stores have their own line of fruit and vegetable snacks in plastic containers, often located in the produce section. My advice is to read those labels carefully as many are high salt and high fat.
Low Sodium Protein Bars and Snack Bars
This was tough. There are a lot of bars out there that can fit in the low sodium category!
I tried to pick easily available options that aren’t crazy expensive. I also favored limited ingredient bars that are dairy and gluten-free. Added sugars were tricky, because the sugar content increases if you avoid sugar alcohols, which I do.
That being said, I have only touched on what’s available. Drop me a line and let me know your favorites!
Aloha Bars PB Chocolate Chip—1 bar has 240kcals, 95mg sodium, 12g fat, 3g added sugar, 10g fiber, 14g protein
Aloha bars are organic, dairy and gluten-free, and low in added sugars, given the serving size. If you don’t see them in your grocery store, you can get them easily online at their website or Amazon.
Kind Bars Cranberry Almond—1 bar, 160kcals, 20mg sodium, 6g added sugar, 12g fat, 5g fiber, 5g protein
This Kind Bar gets its fat from heart healthy nuts. It has a bit more added sugar than is ideal, but the fiber, protein, and natural ingredients balance this out for me.
Kashi Layered Granola Bars—1 bar, 120kcals, 50mg sodium, 7g added sugars, 3.5g fat, 4g fiber, 4g protein
These fall into the dessert category for me with their luscious chocolate taste. Chewy and delicious.
Lara Bars Apple Pie—1 bar has ~220kcals, 60g sodium, 9g fat, 4g fiber, 0g added sugars, 4g protein
Lara bars are limited ingredients, dairy-free, and get their fats from heart healthy nuts. Check out the mini size and the other available flavors. Read the labels, as different flavors vary slightly in nutrient composition.
Low Sodium Granola
Granola is typically a mix of grains and nuts, with fruit or chocolate added. Most are oat based. It’s really easy to overdo granola! This is another instance where you should portion it out and then put the bag away.
And buyer beware, granola brands seem to use whatever serving size they want. I’ve seen serving sizes as low as ¼ cup and as high as ⅔ cup so don’t be fooled.
Here are some low sodium options I hope you’ll love:
Bear Naked Banana Nut—½ cup 250kcals, 0mg sodium, 13g fat, 8g added sugars, 4g fiber, 5g protein. This is a favorite in our house. The healthy fats come from walnuts, almonds, and flax. And the large banana pieces are so delicious.
Kind Vanilla Blueberry Granola—1/3 cup (30g) 110 calories, 25mg sodium, 3g fat, 5g added sugars, 4g fiber, 3g protein. Kind has several granolas that fit into a low sodium diet, some higher in added sugars than others. This granola has a great vanilla berry flavor and a place on this list.
Purely Elizabeth Organic Original Granola—1/3 cup, 130kcals, 115mg, 5g sugars, 2g fiber, 3g protein. Purely Elizabeth is gluten and dairy free with a mildly sweet flavor and great crunch. Be sure to check out the other flavors as most fit into the low sodium category.
Nuts and Seeds
You can get your nuts and seeds in the bulk section of the grocery store. Otherwise, unsalted nuts are easily found in the baking or snack aisle. Look for store brands to save money. Try unsalted roasted or raw to see which you like best. I like to make sure my nuts are not roasted in oil.
Nuts have heart healthy fats which make them a bit higher in calories, so you don’t need added oils as they don’t add any nutritional value. Since each has a unique nutritional profile, vary your choices, or make your own nut mix!
Here is the lowdown on popular varieties. I made the serving size generous, so don’t hesitate to eat a smaller portion if you are watching your overall calorie intake.
Note: ¼ cup of nuts or seeds contains approximately 36 grams.
- Almonds–¼ cup, 207 kcals, 18g fat, 8g protein
- Almonds are a great source of monounsaturated fat, and Vitamin E. Numerous studies have shown a snack of almonds helps keep you full and may prevent overeating at your next meal.
- Brazil Nuts–6 nuts, 187kcals, 19g fat, 4g protein
- Brazil nuts are a great source of dietary selenium, a precursor to testosterone. I love their unique texture and flavor.
- Cashews–¼ cup, 187 kcals, 15g fat, 5g protein
- Cashews are mild tasting and high in copper, magnesium, and manganese–minerals needed for healthy brain function and immunity.
- Pecans–¼ cup, 173 kcals, 18g fat, 2.3g protein
- These are one of the best-tasting nuts no matter how you pronounce them! They are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. I always roast these in the oven.
- Pistachio–¼ cup, 90kcals, 6.5g fat, 3g protein
- You may have noticed these are one of the lowest-calorie nuts. They are still packed with antioxidants and healthy fats. Pistachios have been shown to lower cholesterol too.
- Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)–¼ cup, 187kcals, 15g fat, 9g protein
- High in protein and a great source of iron, pumpkin seeds are a nutrition powerhouse. They are also a good source of many minerals like magnesium and copper. They are a bit pricey but worth it.
- Sunflower seeds–¼ cup, 210kcals, 18g fat, 7g protein
- Sunflower seeds are a great source of Vitamin E, heart healthy unsaturated fats, and antioxidants. They are relatively inexpensive too.
- Walnuts–1/4cup, 200kcals, 20g fat, 5g protein
- Walnuts are best known as a good source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats. They are also high in antioxidants and a recommended part of a heart healthy diet.
More Pro tips:
- Roast your nuts in the oven for an enhanced flavor. Place an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 6-8 minutes, watching carefully as they can easily burn. Large nuts may take a bit longer.
- Top with your favorite spices such as garlic powder, smoked paprika, rosemary, or black pepper. If you like sweet, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg add a nice touch!
Low Sodium Snack Duos
This is one of my favorite ways to snack. Snack duos feel like a mini meal, and keep me full. I try to get a balance of carbs, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This increases the nutrition in my snack and helps prevent boredom.
Favorite low sodium snack duos are:
- A small handful of Roasted Nuts and ⅛ cup Dried Fruit
- Apple and 1 Tbsp. Almond Butter
- Celery Sticks and 1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
- Carrots and 2 Tbsp. Hummus (look for low sodium like Yorgos)
- Plain Almond Milk Yogurt with ½ cup Berries and 1 tsp. Chia Seeds
- Cherry Tomatoes, Red Bell peppers, ½ small Avocado, sliced
- 7-8 Crackers and ⅛ cup Spiced Roasted Nuts (½ serving size of each)
If you want to make a delicious, low sodium snack dip, check out my recipe for Almond Butter Dessert Dip
- Preparation and planning are key for staying on track.
- While one or maybe two snacks a day is okay, snacking all day is not necessary. Keep your goals in mind and keep the foundation of your diet based on heart healthy meals.
- Keep heart healthy packaged snacks in your pantry, readily available where you can see them, and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t fit into your plan.
- Prep fruits and vegetables in advance, so they are ready when a snack craving hits.
- Most cut veggies will keep several days in an airtight container.
- Apples, oranges, and bananas have their own containers. Keep them on the counter where you can see them.
- Grapes and berries can be cleaned, dried, and divided into snack-size portions.
- Bring your snacks with you to work or when you are out running errands so you have healthy choices readily available.
I hope you find this information helpful and I hope it saves you time at the grocery store! My goal is to take the guesswork out of heart failure nutrition and to do the tedious work for you. Your job is to take care of your body and your heart!
And here’s a lookup tool to research your favorite snack foods! https://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-food-calorie-counter Just enter in the food item, brand name included, and get all the information without leaving your home!
If you have a low sodium, heart healthy snack you love, be sure to comment or drop me a line at [email protected]. Don’t forget to check out my other blog articles and recipes for more information on managing heart failure nutrition.