The doctor comes in with the diagnosis – and it’s not great. But then he says “I have a little more bad news, too. I want you to go on a low-sodium diet.”
“That doesn’t sound so horrible,” you say, “I can eat my food without salt.” That’s when the doctor explains that there’s a lot more to it than not putting salt on your food. There’s salt in almost all of the foods we eat, especially in packaged, processed and fast-food meals. Even most cheeses and juice blends contain tons of salt. It’s all just too much sodium for some people with health issues.
So what do you do?
A low-sodium diet is complicated – it means changing how you shop and eat. Quite simply, it’s a lot of work. But limiting sodium intake can be a matter of life and death for people who suffer from kidney disease, heart disease (particularly heart failure) and dangerously high blood pressure.
How do you manage to follow a low-sodium diet when you’re not a whiz in the kitchen or don’t have time to do special grocery store trips and cooking? You take advantage of a 21st century solution: a low-sodium meal delivery service.
Heart-Healthy, Low-Sodium Meals: Why They Makes So Much Sense
The average American eats at least five tablespoons of salt every day. While we do need sodium in our diet, most are consuming twenty times the amount of sodium that’s necessary.  Food like eggs and veggies contain naturally-occurring sodium. But most of it is contained or “hidden” in processed and prepared food, primarily as a flavor enhancer.
That extra salt is especially bad for people with certain medical conditions. Your kidneys work to remove excess sodium from the body, but that process is inhibited in people with kidney disease, leading to dangerous sodium and fluid build-ups.
The same problem occurs in those with heart failure, because it causes their kidney function to also be impaired; fluid buildup can lead to difficulty breathing and increase the risk of a heart attack. High sodium intake has also been linked to high blood pressure.
Even those without chronic health issues can benefit from healthy eating choices; that’s why the American Heart Association recommends that all adults reduce their sodium intake.
Low-Sodium Diet: How It Works
The USDA dietary guidelines for most low-sodium eating plans recommend a maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium per day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Getting down to those levels will take more than just getting rid of the salt shaker. You also have to limit the salty foods in your diet.
What does that mean in practice?
If you’re going to do it right, it means limiting:
- Processed meats like hot dogs, lunch meat and bacon
- Most canned products like pasta, soup and vegetables
- Boxed and packaged meal entrees and side dishes, like mac and cheese, rice and pasta mixes, boxed potatoes and stuffing
- Most types of cheese, plus cottage cheese, cheese spreads, salted butter and buttermilk
- Fast food, frozen dinners and salty snack foods
- Salty baked goods, crackers and croutons
- Most gravies, salad dressings, commercially-made tomato sauce and salsa, and sauces like soy and teriyaki
- Pickled vegetables, regular sodas and commercially-made fruit juice
- And of course, salt
Don’t panic! Take a deep breath, because you can combine lots of low-sodium ingredients into a delicious, healthy meal. Bonus: even some of the “no-go” ingredients we’ve listed are also available with low sodium levels that may fit into your diet!
Here’s what works:
- Fresh or frozen meat, fish and poultry
- Fresh, frozen, low-sodium canned vegetables and fruits
- Canned fish or poultry packed in water or oil, drained
- Homemade and low-sodium canned soup
- Potatoes (and sweet potatoes), frozen French fries, squash, fresh peas, avocados, brown rice, pasta, quinoa and farro
- Milk, unsalted butter, ice cream, egg whites, egg substitutes and whole eggs, low-sodium cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella
- Healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, mayo, vinegar, low-sodium peanut butter
- Whole wheat bread, unsalted crackers, low-sodium tortillas
- Unsalted snack foods, nuts and seeds, popcorn
- Unsalted condiments (including low-sodium salad dressings and sauces), citrus juices used as flavor enhancers, and spices without salt included
- Water, tea, low-sodium soda and vegetable juice
That wasn’t so bad, was it? But how do you know how much “low-sodium” food is OK to eat?
Remember that your target is no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Most food labels now include sodium levels. Dietary guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control categorize foods with no more than 35 mg per serving as “very low” sodium products. Foods with no more than 140 mg per serving are considered “low sodium.”
Even armed with this information, it’s still a lot of work to cook low-sodium meals! That’s where low sodium meal delivery can be a godsend.
Low-Sodium Meal Delivery Services
There are a number of companies that deliver diet meal kits for:
- Popular weight loss programs (like keto and Paleo)
- Health-specific diets (like low-fat, low-carb and diabetic meals)
- Special diets (like gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan meal plans)
Some of them, like Sun Basket and BistroMD, now also provide weekly home delivery service for low-sodium, heart-healthy meals.
Most offer low-sodium meals, with weekly food delivery for anywhere from 3-5 meals per week. Some even offer free meals to first-time subscribers! However, most just send you the ingredients and recipes, leaving you to do the time-consuming meal prep.
However, some companies do almost all of the work for you! That’s why we have one favorite meal delivery service that offers a variety of meals to fit different dietary needs, including some low-sodium options.
Factor: A Healthy Delivery Service Offering Some Low-Sodium Options
For those with busy schedules, the extra shopping and prep necessary to make low-sodium meals can be a real reason to put off starting a heart-healthy diet.
Factor’s in-house dietitians offer a free consultation to help answer any questions you have and guide you in observing a low-sodium diet. All the sodium in their meals comes from two sources: naturally occurring sodium in the ingredient or minimally added sea salt. Also, the sodium content is never affected by things like preservatives.
Factor’s meals currently average around 595 mg of sodium per meal. That means that even if you order 3 meals per day, and add a healthy snack or two, you will still come in under the 2300 mg sodium recommendation for your day.
If you are looking for the lowest possible sodium meals, simply click on the meal image on their menu page and determine the sodium content on the nutrition facts label and/or look for sea salt as one of the ingredients! And remember, you always have the full ability to update the meals coming to you every week!
In-house professional chefs prepare each meal from the highest-quality natural ingredients. You have the flexibility to order 4, 6, 8, 12 or 18 meals delivered each week, with à la carte selections also available. Every meal is gluten-free and soy-free, with no refined sugars, no hormones, antibiotics or GMOs.
And every meal is delivered fresh and fully-prepared – no prep work needed. All you have to do is pop them into the oven or microwave and – poof – delicious, healthy meals. As a bonus, prices are quite reasonable, too!
So, if you’re looking to meet your health goals by adopting a low-sodium diet, Factor meals can be a great supplement to your low-sodium meal planning.