Summer Cookouts: Steer clear of the sodium

Shannon Donovan • 26 May 2022

Summer Cookouts: They are fun, but can be a salt fiasco!

The summer holidays are coming up! Most of us enjoy having cookouts and gathering with our friends and family during these holidays and through the summer months. Which means there will be foods with a higher salt content. When you have heart failure and know you need to avoid salty foods, it can be daunting to attend these events. 

Here are some ideas to consider to keep the salt intake on the low side!

Unsalted nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans)

Trail Mix (many have < 170mg of sodium per serving)

Unsalted Pita Chips with Hummus Dip

Carrot and Celery sticks with Hummus or Ranch Dip  

Vegetable tray with bell peppers, cucumbers, raw broccoli, cherry tomatoes

Green fresh vegetable salad with a homemade vinaigrette

Fruit Salad (avoid melons because of the high water content!)

Pasta Salad

Boiled Shrimp with Lemon

Hamburger (no cheese)

Skinless chicken (remove breading and skin before eating)

Foods to eat with caution! 

You have to watch foods with higher fluid content, especially if you are on a fluid restriction. Popular finger foods such as watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, cucumbers, pineapple, strawberries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes all have a bit higher fluid content. Some of these foods you can eat in moderation and not have to count toward your fluid restriction (i.e. grapes, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc). But when eating melons (i.e. watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) you need to include that in your fluid restriction. Good rule of thumb is one cup of melon is one cup of fluid. 

Foods to avoid!

Hot dogs, pretzels, potato chips, chips and salsa, cheese dips, cheese, processed meats, crackers, pulled pork BBQ, pizza, beer.  And of course, always avoid salting your food!

Additional tip:  Monitor your weight closely over the holiday.  Weigh every day at the same time and record the weight.  If weight goes up more than 2-3 pounds overnight (24 hour period) you may want to consider calling your doctor’s office to see if you need to increase your diuretic dose.