Chances are, you’re eating way more sodium each day than you need. Most people consume twice the recommended amount. You may wonder how the tiny white stuff can hurt you…well…
It may seem innocent enough, but salt increases your blood pressure, which places an extra strain on your heart and puts you at risk for stroke and heart disease, two things you don’t want to mess around with.
The average adult should eat no more than one teaspoon of salt (that’s 2,300 milligrams of sodium) a day. But people over 40, those with high blood pressure, and African-American adults should limit themselves to less than two-thirds a teaspoon (1,500 mg of sodium) a day. Think you’re doing okay because you don’t add extra salt to foods? Even if you rarely use the saltshaker, you’re likely going over your limits on sodium. This is because sodium is hiding in nearly every processed food on the shelf, even if it doesn’t taste salty.
Some amount of sodium is needed for good health, so don’t eliminate it altogether. Sodium plays an important role in nerve transmission, muscle contraction and relaxation, and fluid balance within your cells. If you have high blood pressure or aren’t sure how much sodium you should be eating, talk with your physician.
You know salty foods like pretzels, popcorn, and potato chips are chock full of sodium, but you may be surprised to know the following foods are as well.
Salt in Deli Meats
That sandwich you ate for lunch very well could contain half a day’s worth of sodium. Deli meats are high in sodium to preserve freshness and taste. Enjoy just one slice of ham and you’ve eaten 300 mg of sodium. But you likely ate more than one slice, didn’t you? Check the nutrition label before piling on the deli meat. Choose low-sodium options or use fresh meat or poultry instead.
Salt in Canned Goods
They make dinner easy, but most canned soups and vegetables are high in sodium. One cup of canned tomato or chicken noodle soup will cost you 1,300 mg of sodium. A cup of canned green beans contains 800 mg, a third of your day’s recommendations. Look for reduced-sodium canned soups and buy fresh or frozen veggies instead of canned.
Salt in Dairy Products
Regular milk and yogurt are safe, but if you’re watching your sodium intake, you should beware of processed cheeses, buttermilk, and cottage cheese. One slice of American cheese contains more than 400 mg sodium and one cup of cottage cheese crams in 900 mg. When it comes to cheese, choose lower sodium options like Swiss or cheddar.
Salt in Condiments
Sauces, marinades, and condiments may add flavor, but they also add sodium. One tablespoon of ketchup will fill you with more than 150 mg of sodium, two teaspoons of mustard 110 mg, a tablespoon of sweet relish 122 mg, a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce 690 mg, a cup of spaghetti sauce 1,000 mg, and the one to really watch out for: soy sauce. Just one tablespoon of soy sauce contains a blood pressure-spiking 1,000 mg of sodium!
Cut down on the condiments, choose low-sodium options, or add flavor yourself with lemon juice, spices, and herbs.
Salt in Bread and Tortillas
They may not taste salty, but breads, rolls, buns, and tortillas hide a great deal of sodium. One fast-food biscuit or pancake contains more than 500 mg of sodium and a 10-inch flour tortilla has 500 mg. Go with a hot dog bun and you’ll consume 200 mg of sodium, while a slice of wheat bread has 150 mg and a dinner roll more than 130 mg.
Obviously, you should read nutrition labels before assuming a food is low in sodium. And remember that salt goes by many names. Look for any ingredient listed that contains the word sodium. Trying to avoid excessive sodium? Then avoid the foods with lots of it!