If you’re like me, then there are some days where you just can’t stop craving salt!
In this article, I’ll review some possible causes of salt cravings and give 7 healthier snack options to try when these cravings hit.
There are some mixed opinions on salt restriction. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) of salt per day. For reference, most Americans eat around 3,400 mg of salt per day (1).
However, over 75 percent of the sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods like deli meats, pizza, french fries, pasta dishes, canned soups, and potato chips (2). Many of these foods also happen to be high in added sugar and refined carbohydrates. While recommendations to reduce processed food in our diet is indisputable, some researchers argue that the true culprit to heart disease and high blood pressure is added sugar, rather than salt (3, 4).
Related Post: Sugar and Cholesterol: The Unexplained Connection
Additionally, some studies show that the majority of the population does not require a severe salt restriction and that it may actually be harmful (5, 6). Rather, roughly 25% of the population may be what researchers now call “salt sensitive.” This means that they have a more pronounced reaction to sodium in their diet than most people (7).
My professional take: if you focus on eating a diet that is predominately based in real, whole foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, fish, pasture-raised meat), then you’ll likely fall within the AHA salt recommendations anyways. Salt is a great flavoring agent, so if you’re cooking most of your meals from home, adding a bit of salt is probably fine (may vary for the salt-sensitive group).
Like I mentioned above, the average American gets over 75 percent of his/her daily salt from processed, salty foods that are also generally high in added sugar and refined carbs.
Instead of choosing “low-salt soup” or “reduced-sodium chips”, let’s focus on eating more wholesome, nourishing foods to satisfy our hunger and salt cravings instead!
Olives are rich in monounsaturated fats, a particularly healthy type of fat known to lower inflammation and improve heart health (8). They are also rich in Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that is great for your skin.
Nutritionally, there’s not much to pickles (hey, I’m just being honest 😆). However, they are much lower in calories and sugar than other common salty snacks, making them a healthier swap for when you’re craving salt.
Companies often add artificial dyes and preservatives to traditional pickles. Instead, aim to find pickle brands without these additives. You can generally find preservative-free pickles at your local health food store (usually in the refrigerated section).
Nuts bring a power trio of protein, fat, and fiber, which is key to satisfying your hunger and reducing cravings! Most nuts are also good sources of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus that are commonly lacking in our diets.
Different nuts provide different nutrition benefits, so make sure to mix up your nuts to get the most variety and benefit. Nuts can be easy to overeat, so make sure to grab a handful and put the container back in order to prevent mindless eating.
Edamame is baby soybeans. Funny story: when my husband first tried edamame, he literally popped the whole pod into his mouth, chewed twice, and swallowed. 😂
For those of you who don’t get the joke, here’s a friendly PSA: don’t eat the whole pods! They are edible, of course, but the good stuff is on the inside of the pod. Put one end of the edamame pod into your mouth, and squeeze the beans into your mouth that way instead.
Peanut butter is a great healthy swap because it also provides filling fat and protein. Pair it with apple slices to add extra fiber and nutrients. Just make sure to choose a peanut butter without added sugar and preservatives. All you need to make peanut butter is peanuts and salt!
#Millenial, I know. But avocado toast is a great healthy swap when you’re craving salt. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat and extremely high in fiber! They also provide a great source of magnesium, a mineral that nearly 50% of us are lacking in our diet.
Choose a whole-grain, higher fiber bread to pair with it (Dave’s Killer Bread is my fave), and top with red pepper flakes for extra flavor.
Hummus is blended chickpeas mixed with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. It offers a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, making it a great swap for a salty snack. Beans are particularly beneficial for lowering cholesterol, so adding some hummus to your diet with raw chopped veggies, like carrots, celery, and bell pepper slices, is a great way to add extra nutrients to your day.