While salt cravings can be a sign of a serious complication, such as Addison's disease, dehydration or an adrenal disorder, many people have desires to snack on salty foods from time to time with no complications present. Salt contains sodium, which should be limited for optimal health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Here are some of the best foods to satisfy salt cravings.
Sunflower seeds are a simple, inexpensive snack capable of satisfying salt cravings. Sunflower seeds are well known for their health benefits, including cancer prevention, heart health, migraine prevention and reduction of diabetes complications. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, vitamin B1, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, B5 and folate. Approximately 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds has 205 calories.
Popcorn is high in dietary fiber, which has been shown to aid in the digestive process. Look for popcorn varieties that contain lower amounts of butter, or no butter at all. For maximum health benefits while satisfying your salt craving, buy no butter and no salt varieties, and sprinkle with light salt when popping is complete.
Dill pickles are naturally low in fat and calories. Because dill pickles are salty, but low in fat and calories, they make an ideal snack when craving salt. In a 4-inch dill pickle, there are approximately 16 calories.
Although nuts are higher in fat and calories than some other listed foods, they are high in protein and contain healthy fats, including omega 3 fatty acids. Purchase the lightly salted nut varieties to satisfy salt cravings and use in moderation to avoid overeating. Peanuts and pine nuts are highest in protein, with almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews and hazelnuts following closely behind. In 1/3 cup of peanuts there are 285 calories, whereas 1/3 cup of almonds has 183 calories. Considering the nutrition facts of all nuts, almonds are the healthiest.
If you experience a craving for chips or pretzels, pretzels make a better choice. Ideally, you should look for pretzels made with whole grains. If possible, purchase the lightly salt variety to reduce the amount of sodium you consume, while still satisfying your salt cravings. Pretzels are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, but high in folate and manganese. To add protein, dip the pretzels in a small amount of natural peanut butter or hummus, which will also provide satisfaction for salt cravings.
Naturally salty, olives are rich in nutrients that will protect you from heart disease, support gastrointestinal health and reduce the symptoms associated with asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although olives are high in fat, they are a good source of monounsaturated fat, which is a healthy fat. Olives are low in calories and high in iron, vitamin E, dietary fiber and copper.