Help beat bloat and dehydration with these foods to help you balance your sodium levels.

We need some sodium in our diets to be healthy. It is a nutrient that helps keep your heart beating, balances fluid levels throughout our body and more. However, too much sodium can lead to some undesirable side effects, like headaches, bloating, dehydration and feeling fatigued. Over time, consistently getting too much sodium can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that most people should try and consume less than 2,300mg of sodium per day (even though most Americans are eating much more, closer to 3,400mg). 

Certain meals and foods are super high in sodium compared to other foods—we're looking at you pizza and loaded sandwiches. Not to worry, there are many ways to help balance the sodium in your body after a high-sodium meal. Drinking water and moving your body can help normalize sodium levels, but the other foods you eat can play a role too. Potassium is the counterpart to sodium that helps control our blood pressure, so eating enough potassium is crucial for heart health as well. That said, drinking too much water (especially if you're exercising on a hot day or running long distances) or overdoing it on potassium (usually from supplements, not food) can be dangerous so talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Otherwise, if you've just had a salty meal and want to feel your best afterwards, here are some foods to try. 

yogurt bowl with fruit and honey

1. Banana

Bananas are packed with potassium, with about 12% of your daily value (420mg) per one medium fruit. This potassium can help keep blood pressure in check after a high sodium meal, and may lower your risk of stroke over time. They are also high in fiber, which also helps lower your risk of heart disease. Turn bananas into a healthy dessert with our 2-Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream

2. Avocado

Avocados contain an impressive 16% of our daily value of potassium (560mg). Along with their potassium benefits, avocados boast an impressive amount of fiber. Instead of salty chips, pair our Almost Chipotle's Guacamole with bell peppers or carrot sticks after eating a high-sodium meal.

3. Kiwi

Kiwi's are bursting with flavor and are a great choice to follow up a higher-sodium meal. One kiwi fruit has 148mg of potassium, roughly 5% of the recommended daily value. Another side effect of eating too much sodium is feeling bloated, especially if it is a high-sodium, high-protein meal. Kiwis contain enzymes that help you break down protein so it can be digested more easily, which may help alleviate belly bloat. 

4. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are some of the most nutritious vegetables around, and that's no exception when it comes to potassium. One cup of cooked spinach boasts 24% of our daily value of potassium, an impressive 840mg. They are also high in fiber and several other nutrients while being low in calories, to help you get things moving without adding to your fullness.  

5. Yogurt

There are several reasons to turn to yogurt after a high-sodium meal. It is full of potassium as well as probiotics, which help your gut and digestive system function at its best. Not to mention, it makes a nice healthy stand-in for a traditional dessert. Choose plain yogurt instead of flavored and add your own fruit or sweetener to help you cut down on added sugars

6. White Beans 

One half cup of white beans contains 595mg of potassium (17% of our daily value), as well as protein and fiber to keep you full as satisfied without adding significant sodium in your diet. Canned beans contain more sodium than dried so choose lower-salt cans and rinse canned beans to help cut down on sodium—or just cook up some dried beans. Beans are super affordable, versatile and are a great pantry staple to have on-hand for days when you need a healthy meal to get back on track.   

7. Coconut Water 

Though not a food, coconut water is naturally high in potassium with 396mg (11% DV) per cup. It also contains other electrolytes like magnesium and calcium that help you balance your fluid levels and stay hydrated. Lastly, coconut water contains a nutrient called manganese that is important to the metabolism of carbs, protein and cholesterol in our body.    

8. Herbal Tea

Tea might not be particularly high in sodium, but ginger tea and mint tea can help do more than settle an upset stomach. Peppermint in particular can help increase the liver's production of bile, which helps your body digest fatty foods. Ginger also stimulates digestion and reduces swelling to help you kick that bloated feeling to the curb. 

Bottom Line 

It is important to try and limit our sodium intake to 2,300mg or less per day, but it isn't game over if you slip up. Turn to these foods when you've eaten too much sodium for one meal or one day. Many of these foods are high in potassium, an important counterpart to sodium in the body. They also contain fiber, electrolytes and other minerals that stimulate digestion and boost hydration so you can ditch bloating and headaches and get back to feeling your best.