12 Low-Sodium Lunch Meats for When You're Trying to Cut Back on Salt

·6 min read
Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich
Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich

If you're trying to cut back on your salt intake, lunch meats are certainly a good place to start. Some of the top sources of sodium Americans consume, per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, include sandwiches (21% of total sodium intake), rice, pasta and other grain-based dishes (8% of total sodium intake), nonstarchy vegetables (7% of total sodium intake) and deli and cured meats (3% of total sodium intake). Having a few slices of deli meat on a sandwich for lunch can really add up over time.

Luckily, you don't have to completely give up your go-to lunch to align with your health goal. Below you'll find the recommendations for daily sodium (aka salt) intake and 12 different low-sodium lunch meats to choose if you're trying to cut back on salt.

Related: 6 Sneaky Signs You Might Be Eating Too Much Salt

Sodium Recommendations

The DGAs suggest limiting sodium to meet the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction levels. This is defined by the National Academies as no more than 2,300 milligrams per day for people age 14 years and up, and was established using scientific evidence related to sodium intake and risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association suggests an an ideal maximum sodium intake would be even lower, closer to 1,500 milligrams per day.

According to the most recent DGAs, the average sodium intake for folks ages 1 year and older is a whopping 3,393 milligrams per day. That's almost 150% of the maximum recommendation for sodium intake. The DGAs identified that the main sources of sodium consumed in the U.S. come from salt that's added during commercial food processing and preparation.

Understanding the Labels

You may see many different labels on deli meats, including "salt-free," "very low sodium," "low sodium" and "reduced sodium." According to the Food and Drug Administration, "salt-free" or "sodium-free" is defined as having less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. "Very low sodium" is defined as having 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving. "Low sodium" is defined as having 140 milligrams of sodium of less per serving, while "reduced sodium" is defined as at least 25% less sodium than the regular product.

You may also see "no-salt-added." This is defined by the FDA as having no salt added during processing, but these products may not necessarily be salt-free unless it's specified on the label.

Read the labels to determine the best choice for you. If you purchase your lunch meat at the deli counter, you can check the brand's website or ask the counter server to show you the nutrition information.

12 Low-Sodium Lunch Meats

Below you'll find a list of 12 low-sodium lunch meats that are available at many grocers (as well as online).

1. Boar's Head No-Salt-Added Turkey Breast

This turkey breast is oven-roasted and seasoned to create a rich, savory flavor that is heart-healthy, preservative-free and lower in sodium. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 70 calories, 1 gram fat, 14 grams protein and 55 milligrams sodium (2% of the recommended daily maximum).

2. Butterball 37% Less Sodium Turkey Breast

This deli turkey is made from turkey breast and contains no nitrites or nitrates. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 50 calories, 1 gram fat, 11 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates and 330 milligrams sodium (14% of the recommended daily max). It contains less sodium than Butterball's traditional deli turkey breast that has roughly 450 milligrams of sodium per serving.

3. Hillshire Farm Low Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

This turkey breast is made with no artificial preservatives, no added nitrates or nitrites and no artificial flavors. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 70 calories, 1.5 grams total fat, 10 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates and 340 milligrams sodium (14% of the recommended daily limit).

4. Applegate Naturals Smoked Turkey Breast

This turkey breast is rich and smoky, with a rustic take on traditional sliced turkey. Per 2-slice (55-gram) serving, it provides 50 calories, 0.5 gram total fat, 11 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates and 290 milligrams sodium (13% of the recommended daily maximum). It's also dairy-, gluten- and sugar-free.

5. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Lower Sodium Smoked Turkey

This deli smoked turkey has no artificial flavors or added hormones. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 50 calories, 1 gram total fat, 9 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates and 450 milligrams sodium (19% of the recommended daily max).

6. Boar's Head Golden Classic Oven Roasted Chicken Breast, 42% Lower Sodium

This chicken breast is oven-roasted and browned. Per 2-ounce serving it provides 60 calories, 1.5 grams total fat, 12 grams protein and 350 milligrams sodium (15% of the recommended daily limit). It's free of carbohydrates and certified heart-healthy by the American Heart Association.

7. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Lower Sodium Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast

This lower-sodium version of rotisserie chicken breast is made with no artificial flavors or added hormones. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 50 calories, 1 gram total fat, 9 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates and 430 milligrams sodium (18% of the recommended daily max).

8. Boar's Head Branded Deluxe Ham, 42% Lower Sodium

This ham is slow-cooked for a tender taste and classic flavor. It's also gluten-free and milk-free. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 60 calories, 1 gram total fat, 10 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates and 480 milligrams sodium (20% of the recommended daily limit).

9. Hillshire Farm Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Honey Ham

This ham is made with no artificial preservatives, no added nitrates or nitrites and no artificial flavors. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 70 calories, 2.5 grams total fat, 9 grams protein, 4 grams carbs and 370 milligrams sodium (15% of the recommended daily maximum).

10. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Lower Sodium Honey Ham

This lower-sodium ham has no artificial preservatives, no added hormones and no nitrates or nitrites added. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 60 calories, 2 grams total fat, 9 grams protein, 4 grams carbs and 370 milligrams sodium (15% of the recommended daily limit).

11. Applegate Naturals Black Forest Ham

Although it's not labeled as lower-sodium, this certainly has lesser amounts of sodium compared to other brands. Per 2-slice (55 gram) serving, it provides 70 calories, 2 grams total fat, 12 grams protein, 1 gram carbs and 470 milligrams sodium (20% of the recommended daily max). It's also dairy- and gluten-free.

12. Boar's Head Deluxe Low Sodium Oven Roasted Beef

This luncheon meat is seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and roasted. Per 2-ounce serving, it provides 90 calories, 3 grams total fat, 15 grams protein, less than 1 gram carbs and 80 milligrams sodium (3% of the recommended daily limit).