10 Low Sodium Restaurant Options For the New Year

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends individuals between the ages of 2-50 should reduce daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg or less. For those older than 51 or younger individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or other chronic diseases, the recommendation lowers to 1,500 mg per day.  Since sodium is essential element necessary for the body to function properly, it is important to consume between 1,500-2,300 mg per day on average unless otherwise directed by your medical provider.
 In our ongoing Food on the Run and Diet Friendly Dining series, one of the most common comments I find relates to why the sodium content is so high in the foods we suggest as being "healthier" options.  
More and more restaurants are moving in the direction of fresh, whole foods for entrée and side options. Since these tend to be naturally low in sodium, they are a great way to increase nutrition while decreasing the sodium and fat content at the same time. Options such as fresh fruit and steamed or raw vegetables without added sodium, lean meats, poultry and fish as well as whole grains, dried beans, and lentils that do not have added salt are usually better choices with lower sodium content.
The Healthy Dining finder's team of Registered Dietitians believes that Sodium Savvy menu items are those that provide 750 mg or sodium or less for an entrée, and 250 mg of sodium or less for an appetizer, side dish, or dessert. Here are 10 of the best low sodium casual dining and fast food entrée options you might want to select next time you are eating away from home.

Fast Food Chain Options
  1. Arby's Junior Roast Beef Sandwich
  2. Calories – 210
    Fat – 8 grams
    Sodium – 520 mg

  3. Burger King Whopper Jr.
  4. Calories – 340
    Fat – 19 grams
    Sodium – 530 mg

  5. McDonald's 4-Piece Chicken McNuggets
  6. Calories – 190
    Fat – 12 grams
    Sodium – 360 mg

  7. Subway 6" Veggie Delite
  8. Calories – 230
    Fat – 2.5 grams
    Sodium – 310 mg
  9. Wendy's Half-Size Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
  10. Calories – 170 (dressing an additional 60 and roasted pecans an additional 110)
    Fat – 6 grams (dressing an additional 3 grams and roasted pecans an additional 9 grams)
    Sodium – 580 mg (dressing an additional 160 mg and roasted pecans an additional 60 mg)
Casual Dining Chain Options
  1. Cracker Barrel Country Dinner Plate Spicy Grilled Catfish
  2. Calories – 120
    Fat – 5 grams
    Sodium – 300 mg (be sure you have requested no added salt)

  3. Red Lobster Mahi Mahi Dinner with fresh broccoli and garden salad without dressing
  4. Calories – 450
    Fat – 5 grams
    Sodium – 470 mg

  5. Denny's Grilled Chicken Deluxe Salad (doesn't include bread or salad dressing)
  6. Calories – 340
    Fat – 13 grams
    Sodium – 530 mg (be sure you have requested no added salt)

  7. Olive Garden – Garden Fare Lunch Portion Linguini Alla Marinara (doesn't include bread or salad)
  8. Calories – 310
    Fat – 4 grams
    Sodium – 670 mg (be sure you have request no additional sodium)

  9. The Old Spaghetti Factory - Spaghetti Vesuvius (a mixture of chicken, sausage and meatballs with mushrooms, green peppers and onions in a spicy Tabasco and cayenne pepper seasoned sauce over pasta.)
  10. Calories – 710 for a hearty portion
    Fat – 20 grams
    Sodium – 590 mg
Check out this article on diet friendly restaurants for more info.

What low sodium healthy options have you found when eating away from home to share with others who are trying to keep their sodium intake down?

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DIVAGLOW 3/5/2021
Thanks Report
WILDKAT781 12/9/2020
interesting info, thanks! Report
ERIN_POSCH 9/27/2020
thanks for sharing Report
Good information to have on hand "just in case" Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Great information! Thanks for sharing. Report
I love this article--- great info on what restaurant foods are the lowest in sodium Report
My husband is on a very low sodium diet--and none of the things listed would be on his list. It is sad, we are figuring out in our 70's, that what is being billed as "low sodium" is really as high as normal people should ever eat. Because we didn't understand this--and ate in restaurants (and at home)--things that had way higher amounts than the ones listed in this article--his diabetes and now kidney disease make even the "low" sodium listings above be too high. We need a huge campaign in this country to lower sodium in foods, much as we have tried to lower other things in the past (like sugar, fat, etc). Report
We do the Veggie Delite when we eat out...if we have to eat out. We don't eat out very often, but offering a low sodium option would make it easier for us to eat out. Report
My sister is VERY sensitive to sodium. It's really hard to find things she can eat when dining out! Report
THANK YOU for a great, informative article about low sodium options!! It's DEFINITELY a challenge for those of us that have to watch our sodium... Eating out is particularly hard -- so appreciate your pointing out some possibilities!

Given that I'm supposed to stay around 1500 mg/day due to BP issues, even 500 mg is kind of high (as another poster said) but IF I eat out like that, then I just make sure the rest of my day is SUPER "low sodium" and can usually balance it!

I was SHOCKED to learn how high in sodium MOST of the grilled chicken is at most restaurants! Here I THOUGHT I had been eating "healthy" by choosing that option!! Joke was on ME!! It's amazing when you start reading nutritional info, isn't it?? I also find it interesting how bad a "rap" McDonald's gets -- yet as you will note above -- it's one of the options that's LOWEST in sodium!! And they DO have some other healthy options. Believe it or not, after researching things, it's one of my best options in alot of ways IF we're forced to drive thru (which thankfully we don't do very often) -- but like when we're traveling and don't have a choice... Even as "healthy" as Subway is touted -- I pretty much can't eat there EXCEPT for the Veggie Delite -- and even THEN you have to watch what kind of bread it's on and you can NOT eat any pickles or olives on that or you'd go over in sodium!

Anyway -- thanks for sharing this blog with us and for addressing the sodium issue that gets overlooked ALOT I think!!

As for the poster that pointed out alot of people with high BP aren't sensitive to sodium...MOST are -- I'm a nurse and know this not only from personal experience but also professionally. I feel most doctors fail terribly with their patients when they don't address this issue... I had been on TWO meds -- and STILL had borderline high BP but I've been able to come off ALL meds by losing a little over 40 pounds and watching my sodium! Even with my weight being down, my BP definitely reacts when I have a "higher sodium" day (I monitor it myself at home).... Has your husband ever TRIED to monitor his sodium and cut down then have his BP checked?? Especially if he's ADDING salt to things...I'm guessing his sodium intake is astronomical...(one teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 mg of sodium)

Even without ADDING salt, it's amazing how much you take in with just "regular" food -- and I'm not talking "processed" either - which I pretty much have to stay away from completely...

Mayo Clinic's recommendation is 1500 mg or less if you have high BP -- OR LESS! You need it for your body to function properly but not as much as people think! Report
"No added salt", "dressing on the side", "no sauce, please". At what point do we insult the chef, who has made a meal that we have just changed entirely? How do we get cooking schools to teach that there can be flavor without sodium? Why does the "triumvirate of flavor" have to be salt, sugar, and fat? Report
Those are not healthy choices...sorry. a salad with nothing added and either bring your own dressing or ask for vinegar or lemon juice - I mean, if we are talking healthy, 500 mg isn't Report
I first went to an Arby's in 1968 when I went to college and have loved eating there ever since. Report
Not a fan of any of these options. Guess I'll just have to minimize my dining out options. Report
These may be "lower" sodium options, but those numbers still seem pretty high to me. 500mg is 1/4 of the daily recommendation for healthy adults. For people like me, who restrict sodium because of hypertension, it' s closer to 1/3.

I guess my best option from this list would be that Veggie Delight from Subway. Report
I'm very happy to see restaurants and other establishments choosing to create low sodium options. The sodium content in so many prepared foods is high even for people who don't need to be vigilant about sodium. Report
Thanks for the info - We eat out a lot and since I do seem to be sensitive to sodium, it's good information. However, I think I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again - Not everyone with high blood pressure needs to reduce their sodium intake. The hubby has high blood pressure and takes meds for it daily. He also salts everything, but when his blood work is done, his sodium levels are usually pretty low. Report
I think this is a good blog but I think my problem is not limited to how much sodium I take in I think its more to do with I don't get enough calcium and potassium.. Report
I love Arby's too. Its my favorite fast food restaurant! Report
I love Arby's and that's the only sandwich I buy there! It seems like it's #1, too! Report