5 High Sodium Foods Diabetics Should Avoid

5 High Sodium Foods Diabetics Should Avoid

Diabetics should eat less salt than the average person, because they are at risk of high blood pressure. A low-sodium diet is recommended for most diabetics, in order to lessen the risk of high blood pressure and related health issues, such as heart disease.

Unfortunately, salt is an all too common ingredient in most packaged and prepared foods. It's very easy to eat far more than the recommended daily values of sodium. Lowering salt intake is a challenge, but it's perfectly possible if you pay close attention to nutrition labels and make an effort to make homemade food rather than store-bought, processed meals. 

Here’s a list of common high sodium foods that diabetics should avoid, along with suitable low sodium alternatives.

1. Don’t eat canned vegetables

Most canned beans and other canned vegetables contain unnecessary amounts of salt. Low or no sodium versions of canned veggies can be pricy. Instead, buy dried beans and rehydrate them yourself. Incidentally, legumes like beans and lentils rehydrate better when they aren’t seasoned with salt, because sodium slows the cooking. Instead, flavor the beans with a salt-free spice mix including seasonings like garlic, onion, cayenne, pepper, and cumin. As for other canned veggies — these can easily be substituted with fresh or frozen alternatives.

2. Watch out for high sodium spices and seasoning mixes

Certain popular seasonings often contain loads of salt. Many garlic powders and dehydrated onions for example are chock-full of sodium. Be sure to check the nutrition labels on all spices before you purchase or use them, as well as the contents of any premixed seasonings. You’ll be surprised by the high sodium levels of these products. When recipes call for garlic salt or onion powder, you can always substitute that with finely chopped fresh versions. Just remember the flavor is stronger when fresh. Additionally, it’s worth looking up recipes for your favorite spice mixes, like steak seasoning, taco seasoning, and curry powder — you can create your own version, but be sure to omit or drastically reduce the salt.

3. Cottage cheese is a secret salt mine

A single serving size of 1 cup of cottage cheese contains over 900 mg of sodium. That’s nearly 40% of the daily-recommended amount of sodium intake for one day. That’s also more sodium than you’ll find in a single serving of potato chips. If you must eat cottage cheese, purchase the low-sodium variety. Try substituting with Greek yogurt or pureed cream cheese.

4. Watch out for packaged and prepared meats

Most pre-seasoned, packaged, canned, and otherwise prepared meats of any kind are dangerously high in sodium. The salt helps preserve the meat and of course makes it taste better. Whenever possible, buy fresh meat and prepare it yourself. Use a homemade spice mix without salt added. Avoid buying processed meats like bacon and sausage altogether, or if absolutely necessary, purchase the low-sodium versions. 

5. Soy sauce is basically liquid sodium

This popular flavoring is used to season many meat and vegetable dishes, especially in Asian cooking. If you eat it with any regularity, you know that it’s essentially a savory liquid salt. Yes, low-sodium varieties exist, but they’re still pretty loaded with salt. If you’re used to cooking your veggies with lots of soy, try something equally savory and delicious but lower in sodium, such as sauces based with lemon, garlic, white wine, balsamic vinegar, or tomato.