Too much sodium can have negative effects on our health. We consume sodium each day, and that’s good because our bodies need the mineral sodium to help maintain water-electrolyte balance and blood volume. But a diet high in sodium is strongly correlated with an increased risk for high blood pressure, which contributes to heart disease and stroke.
You may be surprised to learn that most of the sodium in our diets doesn’t even come from the salt shaker: It’s hiding in foods we eat every day.
High levels of sodium can cause the body to retain too much fluid. This can be harmful to people with high blood pressure or heart, liver or kidney diseases. People with these conditions should be especially careful about sodium intake.
The current percent daily value (%DV) for sodium is 2400mg, however, the American Heart Association recommends that people with high blood pressure eat less than 1500mg per day, or less than 3/4 of a table spoon of salt.
Some of the top salt shockers include:
Beef Noodle Soup (2,354 mg or 98% DV per ounce)
Ham and egg biscuit (1,989 mg or 83% DV per biscuit)
Whole wheat pancake mix (1,987mg 83% DV per cup)
Canned sweet peppers (1,917 mg or 80% DV per cup)
Soy Sauce (1,228 mg or 51% DV in one tablespoon)
Mini pretzels (1,029 mg in 10 mini rounds)
Frozen pepperoni pizza (902 mg in one slice)
Dill pickles (881 mg in one medium pickle)
Salted pumpkin seeds (711mg or 30% DV per ounce)
Cooked bacon (614mg or 25% DV in one ounce, 175 mg in one slice)
Canned peas (428 mg in 1/2 cup)
Bacon (303 mg per slice)
Remember salt can be hidden in ketchup, frozen dinners, and instant hot cereals. Other examples include salad dressings, mustard, meat tenderizer, cheeses, instant foods, pickles, canned vegetables and soups, salsa and barbecue sauce. Even common medications such as antacids, laxatives and cough remedies contain sodium compounds.
Package label terms to be aware of and check include:
Sodium free or salt free/Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
Low sodium/140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving
Reduced or less sodium/At least 25% less sodium than the food’s standard serving
Light sodium/50% less sodium than the food’s standard serving
Unsalted or no salt added/No salt added during processing, but could contain natural sodium
Steps to Reduce Your Sodium
- Get rid of or limit your use of the salt shaker. Try a shaker with smaller holes.
- Substitute salt seasoning with other flavorings, such as onion, garlic, lemon, vinegar, black pepper, or parsley.
- Choose fresh, frozen or canned vegetables without added salt.
- Cook fresh or frozen fish, poultry and meat more often than canned or processed forms.
- Compare the amounts of sodium in various brands of frozen dinners, packaged mixes, cereals, cheese, breads, salad dressings, soups and sauces. Sodium content varies widely among different brands.
- Rinse canned beans and vegetables to remove added salt before cooking.
- Choose foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium” or “sodium free.”
- Know how much sodium is in your favorite condiments, especially soy sauce, steak sauce, ketchup and salsa. Limit your intake accordingly.
- Avoid foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate), particularly when dining out. You can ask to have your meal prepared without MSG.
- Try to limit your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams.