Hidden Sodium in Healthy Foods

Many foods we consider healthy have surprisingly high levels of sodium. Find out how to avoid hidden sodium in some of your favorite foods. By Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN

Sodium Recommendations

Sodium Recommendations

In January 2011, the USDA announced the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommending that healthy adults should limit their sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day while individuals with high blood pressure should consume no more than 1,500 mg per day. Consistently consuming more than the recommendation may lead to high blood pressure increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure. Even when eating healthy, it is important to pay attention to the sodium content in the foods because some seemingly healthy foods are higher in sodium than you may think. Always check the labels to be sure of sodium content. You’ll find a complete guide in How to Read Salt Labels.

Whole Wheat Bread Sodium

Whole Wheat Bread

One hundred percent whole grains are high in fiber and help to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Unfortunately, many bread manufacturers are adding too much salt in their recipes, negating the bread’s health benefits. Slices can average from 260 to 400 mg, and considering most people have 2 slices at a time, the sodium can add up. There are brands that provide less than 170 mg per slice, which should be the maximum amount per slice.

Breakfast Cereal Sodium

Breakfast Cereal

A high fiber bowl of cereal with low-fat milk and berries is a healthy way to start the day. On the other hand, if you aren’t careful, it could be the start to a high sodium day. Many people check the cereal’s food label for calories, fiber, and sugar and rarely look at the sodium content.  With ranges approximately 170 to 280 mg per serving, this nutrient should not be overlooked. Hands down your best bet to avoid sodium in cereal is to look for shredded wheat brands and plain oatmeal.

Cottage Cheese Sodium

Cottage Cheese

Whether you have it with fruit salad, as a topping on a baked potato, or in place of regular cheese, this versatile food is known as a good source of calcium and protein. But with an average of 400 mg sodium per ½ cup serving, it can change a healthy dish into a high sodium one. Choose no-salt-added cottage cheese for just 60 mg sodium per serving.

Nut Butter Sodium

Nut Butter

The only ingredient really needed to make peanut butter is peanuts. Yet, so many companies add sugar, palm and hydrogenated oils, and lots of salt to enhance the taste. An average 2 tablespoon serving of nut butter can have as many as 125 mg of sodium.  Get into the habit of buying a no sodium added nut butter or break out the food processor and make your own.

Salad Dressing Sodium

Salad Dressing

Salad should be a staple in your diet because of the endless health benefits of greens and veggies. Also, eating salad with dinner helps to fill you up so you’re less likely to overeat. Beware though because your salad dressing may be sabotaging your good intentions by adding a giant dose of sodium to your meal.  Be on the lookout for dressings that range as high as 230 to 550 mg per serving. Follow this simple step-by-step guide to making your own vinaigrette.

Tomato Sauce Sodium

Tomato Sauce

Opening up a can of tomato sauce and preparing an antioxidant-rich pasta dinner is a simple, go-to dinner. However, many brands of tomato sauce are as high as 670 mg per serving. If you can’t find a low sodium brand in the store, try making your own.

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