LET'S LOOK AT THE RED ISLES!
Even though the safest place to shop for low sodium is the Green Isles and the Red Isles contain most of the "nasty s" we need to avoid, there are honest to goodness "treasures" for us in the Red Isles. Just know that the red isles are were most of the processed and heavy salt/sodium products live. I love going through the red isles in search of the treasures a person on a low sodium diet will absolutely appreciate. I have honestly found some items that have not only been extremely tasty and loso, but also great time savers when preparing a meal.
WHAT TO AVOID IN THE RED ISLES!
Before we get to the treasures that can be found in the red isles, let's go over the absolute worst of the worst for sodium so you know to just stay away. Even if these items offer a low sodium or reduced sodium/salt solution they are still way to high in sodium/salt for us to consider them "safe" for us to use. Unless they are absolutely "Sodium Free" Stay away.
Breads, Rolls, and Pastries: This one will break your heart, both figuratively and literally. Sadly this is one of those isles that people on a low sodium diet regret not being able to shop. Breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, and all yummy pastries are very very high in sodium. The reason is they are made with baking soda and/or baking power both of which are almost pure sodium, or sodium is used to preserve these goodies to give them the longest shelf life. Imagine a loaf of bread only lasting 2-3 days instead of a week or 2. On the plus side, in our section about "Creating Foods & Sourcing Ingredients" we look into made from scratch or sourced products that allow us to enjoy some of these foods. To buy them directly from a red isle is never going to be an option.
Soups, Broths and Bouillons: This one was as much of a surprise as it wasn't a surprise. Let me explain. I always knew canned soups, broths and bouillons contained a lot of salt/sodium. What I didn't know was how the companies portioned their offerings and what the real total actually is. Canned soups are through the roof with sodium, if you take a quick glance at the nutrition label on a can of soup it shows they are at 480 mg per serving. If you look harder at the label as we discussed earlier you will see that the soup company considers it's small 10 oz. can, 2 servings which gives you a final total per can of 960 mg per 10 oz can. Soup stock, broths and bouillon cubes are for the most part no better. However, there are some companies that do offer a very tasty salt/sodium free soup stock/broth and bouillon powder. Don't look at reduced sodium products, they are clearly marked "Unsalted or Salt-Free." We will look more in depth about the in our Creating Foods & Sourcing Ingredients."
Canned Goods: Canned goods are processed foods, plain and simple. Most canned goods are just simply to high in sodium to be of any use to us. Baked Beans come to mind right away, pasta sauces both red and white run a close second, but you wouldn't think canned vegetables would round out the top 3. Canned veggies aren't horribly high in sodium, but a much fresher and lower sodium option for some veggies to have with your meals is in one of 2 other isles. Obviously you can go to the produce section and buy absolutely fresh, but you can also go to the "Freezer Section" and buy bags of frozen veggies. Frozen veggies are an economical and ease of prep option we really need. One caution when buying frozen veggies, avoid buying veggies that are packed in "flavor sauces." Like a cheese sauce they are very high in sodium. There are some folks who like to buy canned veggies and rinse them in cold water for a few minutes to get rid of the preserving sodium. I personally don't subscribe to this method as you don't know for sure how much sodium you are left with. I prefer to buy veggies fresh or frozen and my bean selection dry and reconstitute them.
Some Other Culprits: My daughter bought me a book when I came home from the hospital. It was all about a No Salt Lifestyle and the first two items it mentioned was you can't have Tomato Juice /V8 ever again in your life. You should only be eating Shredded Wheat as a breakfast cereal. I thought, "hmmm how strange." So I had to investigate the first time I went food shopping for my new lifestyle. Guess what? Tomato Juice/V8 is basically a salt lick, it is loaded with salt/sodium. Shredded Wheat is almost at 0 mg of sodium, which because of milk (in many variations) being as high in sodium as it is one of the only breakfast cereals that combined with milk to stay at a reasonable sodium level for a daily use. These two things made me pay attention to everything even more close as I found that everything inter-twined.
THE REAL DEALS IN THE RED ISLES!
There are some real Gems mixed in with all the products above. For instance, in the canned goods isle I have found, "salt free" diced, pureed, stewed tomatoes. Same with Tomato Sauce and paste. very tasty and great time savers. One of the stores that I shop I have found "salt free" canned veggies, not all of them but quite a few like the small whole potatoes. At another store I have found in the "organic section" canned and bagged ready to eat beans at very low sodium numbers, they have nice variety like chic peas, navy beans, red and white kidney, black beans and a few others. Lower sodium salad dressings, salsas, unsalted potato chips. red peppers with white raisins and pine-nuts in oil. All of the items I have mentioned are at or under 25mg a serving of different sizes depending on the item. There are tons of Gems like this in these isles. We have to take the time to find them. Shopping for us "loso" folks takes on a whole new meaning. You don't have to just go to big chain supermarkets. Smaller family owned stores and specialty shoppes have a lot to offer, especially those that can provide custom items for you like a bakery that can make you real low sodium breads, rolls, pastries. They are out there and for the most part love to help. Being on a low sodium diet means we just have to eat smart and find the right foods. It's doesn't mean we have to eat flavorless gruel to get by everyday. Yes, if you are a picky eater this could be more of a struggle for you. If you enjoy exploring new tastes and foods, you will embrace this as I have. No matter which side of the fence you are on there is no getting around this MUST DO diet to stay healthy and out of the hospital with medical problems caused by sodium. Let's work on it together, we can help each other find new items and learn new things and who knows maybe even become good friends who support each other through this time of our lives when having a friendship with someone in the same boat as you can make a real difference.
Click the Button below and we will start to plan our diet and find good ingredients that will make our LoSo Life much easier and enjoyable.