What are some no-salt products you would recommend?
Finding salt-free products are challenging because sodium is both naturally occurring and is also added to most products. For patients with kidney disease, you should try to limit your sodium intake to no more than 2300 mg per day. This is the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Salt is found mainly in processed foods so in order to reduce your sodium intake, it would be much easier to limit these foods as much as possible and use natural, fresh foods more often. Your diet should have plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. If you aren’t on a phosphorus restriction, you can include low fat dairy products as well. Other ideas would be to use salt free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash and Penzey’s salt free spices (contact Penzeys.com for their list). Be careful of salt replacements such as No-Salt and Nu-Salt as they contain potassium which can cause high blood potassium levels in patients with kidney disease. Fast foods and packaged foods are loaded in sodium and have low nutritional value so these should be eaten in moderation only.
When grocery shopping, look for lower sodium versions of your favorite foods such as soups (homemade is always the best!), crackers, pretzels, and popcorn. Look for plain packaged rice rather than the rice, potato and pasta packets in sauce. You can add vegetables and low sodium broth to the plain version to add some flavor of your own! Look for low sodium canned tuna, chicken or salmon as a great protein source. Always try to use frozen and fresh vegetables rather than canned. If you eat canned vegetables and beans, try to rinse them under water before eating them. This will help to reduce the amount of salt you consume. Overall, the best way to reduce your salt intake is to cook from scratch as much as possible and to use fresh ingredients, herbs and spices. Davita.com has thousands of kidney friendly recipes that you can browse through!
As I've stated before, just looking for "low sodium" foods is not enough. Many such "low sodium" foods rely on potassium chloride to give it that 'salty taste. For a kidney patient, potassium is MUCH worse for you than sodium, and things like "reduced sodium" soups are LOADED with potassium.
Thanks so much for your comments. I totally agree with you that finding healthy "low sodium" products is very difficult. As I mentioned in my post, sodium substitutes are often high in potassium which is also contraindicated for some people following a renal diet. For this reason, again, its best to rely on fresh foods and cook from scratch as much as you can. If this is difficult, you can try to cook in large batches (ie: casseroles, soups, stews) and freeze individual portions for a later date. This way you can control the sodium in your recipes. I also encourage you to look at the hundreds of recipes on Davita.com for more ideas!
Jaime Austin, RDN, CSG, LD