Hidden Salt in Foods

glass of soda pop

Contributor: George Thomas, MD

Studies show that cutting down on sodium in your diet can lower blood pressure — reducing your risk of stroke, heart failure and other health problems.

Experts say most people should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. That’s one teaspoon. People with certain medical conditions should consume even less.

However, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day – or 48 percent more than the recommended daily limit.

HealthHub Number from Cleveland Clinic, up to 230 milligrams of sodium in slice of bread

Isn’t sea salt healthier?

Sea salt is generally marketed as a “natural” and “healthier” alternative.

The main differences between sea salt and table salt are in taste, texture and processing. Sea salt has a stronger flavor. However, what people should remember is that both sea salt and table salt have the same amount of sodium by weight.

Should I just stop using the salt shaker?

It does help to avoid adding salt to your food at the table, but unfortunately, a major part of the sodium in American diets – almost 80 percent – comes from processed and packaged foods. These foods can be high in sodium even if they don’t taste salty.

Processed foods include:

  • Frozen meals
  • Canned or pickled foods
  • Snack foods
  • Deli meat
  • Cheese
  • Condiments, sauces and dressings
  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Soda (including diet soda)

Checking labels is the only way to know how much sodium is in your food. If you buy packaged or processed foods, choose foods that are labeled “sodium-free” or “very low sodium.”

Also, remember that the amount of sodium listed on the ingredient label references a particular serving size. If you eat more than the listed serving size, you’ll consume more sodium.

How much sodium is in popular foods?

The Centers for Disease Control has a list of six popular foods with high sodium content dubbed the “Salty Six”:

  1. Breads and rolls – each piece can have up to 230 mg of sodium
  2. Pizza – one slice can have up to 760 mg of sodium
  3. Cold cuts and cured meats – Two slices of bologna have 578 mg of sodium
  4. Poultry – especially chicken nuggets. Just 3 ounces have nearly 600 mg of sodium
  5. Canned soups – one cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 mg of sodium
  6. Sandwiches – consider the bread, cured meats, processed cheese and condiments, and sandwiches can easily surpass 1,500 mg of sodium

Diet for high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a low-sodium intervention. All the foods you would eat are low in fat.

The diet calls for four to five servings of fruit, four to five servings of vegetables, and two to three servings of low-fat dairy. It’s also rich in whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts – while also limiting sugar and red meats.

Train your taste buds

At first, foods may not taste as good without sodium. But you will adjust over time. Natural substitutes that taste great include lemon, ginger, curry, dried herbs (such as bay leaves, basil and rosemary), onion, garlic and dry mustard. You might also use salt substitutes, but check with your doctor first.

  • Lisasc

    It would be great if you would discuss ABO incompatible kidney transplants. That is what my niece and I are doing. She’s O- and I’m A-. My niece has lupus and has been on the transplant list 15 months. We were told 3 weeks ago that she needs a transplant within 3 months or she’s dead.

    • Linda

      “…. she needs a transplant within 3 months or she’s dead”. My goodness, you have such a beautiful way with words! (NOT)

      • Brian Mitchell

        So do you. (NOT)

  • Jesus

    But my pee is purple?

  • http://akamar.deviantart.com Akamar

    I seem to have more issues at night.. I do tend to drink a lot more water at home, and often before bed. It’s getting difficult to get up and make it to the restroom without some leaking though

    • Samantha Honeycutt

      When you lay down it’s easier for fluid in your extremities to make it back to your kidneys to filter. This makes you produce more urine at night than during the day. You may try drinking more of your water in the morning or mid-day to reduce the the volume of new water in your system at bedtime, but the best thing to do is to set one or more alarms thru-out the night to just go ahead and get up and beat nature to it.

      • http://akamar.deviantart.com Akamar

        Ahhh, well that makes quite a bit of sense, given my job..

  • Jonathan

    I have strictures and they can be damned painful with puss, leakage and uti’s to boot. I have never had an STD in my life but was born with this particular defect. Cranberry extract supplements never really did the trick, however, dried cranberries are a winner every time. I get better flow, no pain and far less inflammation when I eat dried cranberries on the regular. Furthermore, the fiber in dried cranberries help keep my bowels moving.

    “Overall, clinical studies on the efficacy of cranberry juices and extracts for the prevention of UTIs are conflicting.”

    I submit that in my case, cranberries have been awesome at giving someone with my condition, a far healthier urinary tract. If the juice and supplements aren’t working, try the real thing.

  • Carl Broughton

    What about SEDIMENT? It is yellow; looks like sand.