If you are that friend who grabs the table salt and makes it rain sodium on french fries, chips, or any food put in front of you, you are not alone. Many people—us included—love salt. Well, sorry to be a buzzkill, but that temporary high of tasty goodness can lead to health problems later on. “Consuming too much sodium causes your body to retain water. Storing excess water in your body results in high blood pressure, which can lead to issues with your heart, kidneys, and other organs,” says Amy Shapiro, certified nutritionist and founder of Real Nutrition NYC.
“On a vanity level, sodium can make you puffy, cause bags under your eyes, and make you bloated.”
But we’re all about compromise (and refuse to cut off salty food forever), so we asked Shapiro and registered dietitian Farah Fahad for their advice on how to find that healthy balance. “You can have salty snacks,” says Fahad. “Just make your own.” That way, she says, you can control how much salt goes into your food. If you just don’t have time to make salty snack from scratch, she insists looking at the ingredient list before purchasing a so-called “healthy” snack. “In these alternative healthy snacks, they’ll add oils that we should not be consuming (like soybean oil).
They come hand in hand with these [unhealthy] salty snacks,” she says. “Look for something with 200 milligrams or less.” With those tips in mind, we asked them for their favorite healthy salty snacks, homemade or otherwise. See below for what you should be putting on your grocery list.
Skinny Pop Popcorn
It’s made of whole grain popcorn, natural sunflower oil, and 75 milligrams of salt. “It’s a whole food (made from corn!). It contains fiber and some nutrients,” says Shapiro. While Harvard grads claim that corn is the worst vegetable for you, it still serves as a healthier savory snack option than anything processed.
“Hippeas are made from chickpeas, so it provides protein and fiber; you’re fueling your body and not just filling it,” says Shapiro.
“Walnuts, pecans, macadamia, almond—I love roasted nuts. I’ll buy them raw and whole because if they’re already roasted and salted, they are already drenched in [oil]. I’ll add a little bit of sea salt and roast them myself,” says Fahad.
“The largest contributor of sodium to the American diet is commercial bread. So I’ll go get fresh sourdough from a farmers market and make avocado toast,” says Fahad. “The fresher, the better.” Fresh bread from a bakery or farmers market won’t have the additives that come in commercial options like white bread.
We know we don’t have to tell you why vegetables are healthy. But to make it an extra-savory yet healthy snack, Fahad suggests salting it yourself with natural sea salt. “I recommend Himalayan salt or Kosher salt. The minerals in it are better [for the body] than table salt,” she says. Just don’t overdo it.
Avocado has loads of health benefits (reducing inflammation and increasing energy, to name a couple). Fahad loves making her own guacamole with a pinch of Himalayan salt.
“They have lots of minerals and are super low in calories—they quell your cravings without increasing your waistline!” says Shapiro.
Next up, check out how to eat your feelings without feeling gross.