“More salt in cheese than seawater,” screeched one tabloid. Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) today publishes research into the salt content of almost 800 supermarket varieties of cheese. The vast majority – 98% – of British households apparently buy the stuff, and it turns out that after bread and bacon, dairy products are the third biggest contributors of salt to the national diet. (Milk naturally contains modest levels of sodium, but much of the salt we eat in dairy is added by cheese manufacturers.)

Most people know that cheese is pretty salty stuff, but many might be surprised to know that a 30g portion of many kinds of cheddar contains more salt than a 30g bag of crisps. Equally of note is the remarkable disparity in salt levels between individual types of cheese. A Co-op gorgonzola was almost six times saltier than its counterpart at Sainsbury’s. Morrisons Smooth & Tangy Farmhouse Cheddar contains 0.63g of salt per 30g portion, while Waitrose Reduced Fat Light Mild Cheese – a cheddar variant – was almost 30% less salty.
Salt is vital to mature and flavour hard cheeses such as parmesan and soft-rind ones such as camembert. It stops bacteria from growing inside cheese and gives the food its savoury finish. Good cheese is highly nutritious, full of calcium, vitamins and minerals. A rather miffed-sounding director of the Dairy Council told the BBC that the survey is “mixing up the effect of cheese on health with the effect of salt on health … Salt is not added for taste or flavour but for safety and technical reasons.”

However, the survey should be of use to people who enjoy cheese but are nervous about their salt intake. And parents might benefit from knowing that different varieties of cheese can have dramatically different salt levels. “We found that two slices of one cheese and two slices of certain breads contained over 2g of salt between them,” says Katharine Jenner, a public health nutritionist and campaign director at Cash.

“That’s the maximum you can feed a three-year-old in a day. But if you choose the lowest-salt bread and cheese, you can halve that. We’re not saying ‘Don’t give your child a cheese sandwich’, but we recommend people stay away from cheeses where the manufacturers have purposefully added unnecessary salt.”

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7 Foods That Have Way Too Much Sodium

Fad diets may come and go, but limiting sodium intake is a constant when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and reducing water retention. Unfortunately, contrary to what marketing efforts may lead you to believe, the food industry is in business for the sole purpose of making money. And, because words like “natural” and “skinny” are loosely regulated, it’s easy to be led astray. In fact, there are a number of foods high in salt that don’t even taste salty! Why? Because no one wants their baked goods tasting salty, so the answer is to cover the taste with, in most cases, even more sugar. Don’t fall victim to America’s poorly-regulated food system; check food labels next time you consider throwing these seven items in your supermarket cart.

1. Bagels

Bagels have a ton of sodium. | iStock.com

Even if you’re not on a low-carb diet, you might want to reconsider New York’s signature dough or at the very least, opt for a flagel. A plain bagel has an average of about 500 milligrams of sodium (or about a quarter of what the average person should consume in a day). And that’s just for the plain kind! Egg, cheese, and everything bagels are just a few of the other varieties that pack even more salt — and that’s before your salty schmear of cream cheese.

2. Baked goods

Baked goods may surprise you with their sodium amounts. | iStock.com

If you’re concerned about your overall health — as we all should be — pick up a copy of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. In it, you’ll find a detailed account about how packaged baked goods — including cookies, cakes, pastries, and doughnuts — are not only packed with the obvious things most of us want to curtail (sugar and carbs), but they’re also loaded with salt. Not only is salt added to entice taste buds to crave more of these unhealthy foods, but it’s often used as a cheap preservative.

3. Sauces

Canned sauces are known for being high in sodium. | iStock.com

There’s a reason you often get really thirsty after eating pizza — tomato sauce tends to be loaded not only with sugar, but with salt. We’re talking up to 670 milligrams of sodium per serving. Ditto for marinades and salad dressings, which can contain anywhere from 230 to 550 milligrams per serving. It’s relatively easy to make most everyday sauces from scratch; for example, make your own tomato sauce by simply combining stewed tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano. If that’s not an option, opt for salt-free sauces when possible.

4. Canned vegetables

Green beans from a can typically contain a lot of sodium. | iStock.com

Eating fresh produce can get expensive, but just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Canned vegetables are packed with sodium; for example, SFGate notes a one-cup serving of canned green beans contains 376 milligrams of sodium. Instead of opting for canned vegetables, opt for sodium-free frozen vegetables. In fact, unless you’re getting your veggies straight from your local farm, frozen ones are actually the healthier option since they’re frozen shortly after harvest at their peak nutritional ripeness. The produce you’ll find at, for example, Whole Foods, on the other hand, will have likely lost some nutrients during transport and storage.

5. Salted nuts, seeds, and trail mixes

This assortment of nuts has a ton of salt. | iStock.com

Nuts and seeds are a healthy addition to most people’s diets, but they tend to be hard to consume in moderation, especially when salt is in the mix; one serving of almonds, for example, is just 23 almonds. Always opt for salt-free nuts, seeds, and trail mixes.

6. Hot chocolate

This one may surprise you. | iStock.com

Hot chocolate is one of the last places you’d expect to see salt, but most instant options have 5% to 8% of your daily limit per serving. Combine that salt level with about 20 grams of sugar and it’s little wonder few people can stop themselves after a couple of sips. Make your own low-sugar, low-calorie, low-sodium hot chocolate by combining 70% dark cocoa powder with sugar-free almond milk.

7. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is full of protein — but it’s also full of sodium. | iStock.com

As far as calcium and protein sources go, cottage cheese delivers, but at what cost? A ½-cup serving of 1% cottage cheese can contain 400 milligrams of sodium. Look for no-salt-added options or go for sugar-free plain Greek yogurt instead.

5 Surprising Foods That Are High in Sodium

We all know that a diet high in sodium isn’t good for our health, but do we really understand how much is too much? Apparently not, according to new research from the American Heart Association. The new report that surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 American adults found that most Americans believe sea salt contains less sodium than table salt (wrong!) and that almost half believe that the main source of salt in their diet comes from the salt shaker (wrong again!). In fact, nearly three-quarters of sodium comes from processed foods in the American diet.

While you probably know that fast food, canned soup and microwavable meals are high in salt, we put together a list of five foods that are surprisingly high in sodium. No more getting tricked here!

5 High Sodium Foods That Will Surprise You

1. Cottage cheese. Sure, cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, but with it comes a large amount of sodium. A normal half cup serving of 1 to 2 percent low-fat cottage cheese clocks in at 450 milligrams of sodium – a whopping 19 percent of your recommended daily allowance!

2. Canned vegetables. Opening up a can of veggies as a side or to put in a soup or in a pot of chili can boost nutrition in your diet, but know that those canned veggies (and most times beans, too) come with a price: salt. Just half a cup of canned sliced carrots has 370 milligrams of sodium, cream-style corn has 365 milligrams of sodium and diced tomatoes have 520 milligrams of sodium. Reduce your sodium intake by buying no-salt versions of your favorite canned veggies or – even better – buy fresh veggies!

3. Bread. Here’s a shocker, most commercial breads have more than 100 milligrams of sodium per slice. And those specialty rolls, bagels and other breads and muffins that are so tasty? They can even have as much as 300 to 400 milligrams per serving. Again, look for low-sodium varieties of your favorite breads.

4. Cereal. Most of us think of cereal being more sweet than salty, but you’d be surprised by how much salt is lurking in your morning bowl. One cup of Raisin Bran has 300 milligrams of sodium, and one cup of granola has 200 milligrams of sodium. The best defense? Check those nutritional labels, ladies!

5. Deli Meats. When it comes to sneaky salt, you don’t get much sneakier than the salt in deli meats. Just a one-ounce slice of turkey or chicken (the packaged kind you buy at the grocery store) will give you about 250 to 300 milligrams of sodium depending on the brand. Just one slice!

Read about more salt-shocking foods here!

Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.

  • By Jennipher Walters

Fact: Everything tastes better topped with cheese (sorry, but it’s true). However, if you’re watching your sodium intake, you may want to be careful about which delicious cheeses you add to your shopping cart.

Why does cheese contain sodium, exactly? Salt is added during cheese production to stop bacteria from growing, control moisture, improve texture, and enhance taste, explains Rene Ficek, RD, lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. “Most importantly, salt is added for safety reasons, as it acts as a natural preservative,” she says.

It’s no surprise that cheese accounts for about 8 percent of the sodium in the average American’s diet, she adds. Ounce per ounce, your average cheese packs as much sodium as a salt-filled bag of potato chips.

That being said, you don’t necessarily want to buy that cheese marked “low sodium” at the grocery store. Ficek says that, while many manufacturers offer reduced-sodium cheeses, they sometimes use artificial ingredients to make up for a lack of salty flavor.

Luckily, there are plenty of naturally lower-sodium cheeses to choose from.

1. Cottage Cheese

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Paired with poached eggs and whole-wheat toast, cottage cheese has become the de-facto way to dress up a healthy breakfast. However, regular cottage cheese might be high in sodium, so opt for the no-salt-added varieties, which Roussell says generally don’t contain any more preservatives than salt-added cottage cheese

Per serving: 81 calories, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 3 g carbs, 15 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 14 g protein

How to eat it: Almond Berry Mini Cheesecake Smoothies

Cotter Crunch

Not sold on the texture of cottage cheese curds? Blend ‘em up with delicious berries and almonds for a sweet and healthy treat.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 165 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 176 mg sodium, 10 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 7 g protein

2. Ricotta

vikifGetty Images

From lasagna to manicotti, this neutral cheese is light and airy to enough to offset the heartiness of many Italian dishes. Because it is consumed fresh, and has a high moisture content, ricotta doesn’t require salt for preservation or moisture-reduction. “It’s also not necessary for flavor, since the other ingredients in a dish with ricotta usually provide the flavor,” he says.

Per serving: 171 calories, 10 g fat (6 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 123 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 14 g protein

How to eat it: Mason Jar Zucchini Lasagna

Food Faith Fitness

This convenient, light lunch is relatively low in sodium—even though it features three different types of cheese.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 251 calories, 1 g fat (6 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 495 mg sodium, 5 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 30 g protein

3. Cream cheese

Basilios1Getty Images

Bagels and cream cheese are a pretty delicious way to start the day—and it turns out this spread is pretty low-sodium, too. “Cream cheese is a high-moisture cheese that is distributed, refrigerated, and eaten fresh,” says Roussell. “Thus, salt is not necessary to remove moisture from the curd, and it is not necessary to preserve the cheese through the distribution system.”

Per serving: 31 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 1 g carbs, 48 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 1 g protein

How to eat it: Berries & Basil Cream Cheese Toast

Skinny Ms

Your morning toast won’t know what hit it when you top it with the surprisingly delicious blend of berries, honey, lemon, and herbs.

Per serving: 143 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 131 mg sodium, 5 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein

4. Parmesan

vikifGetty Images

Like cream cheese, your Parmesan serving atop a bowl of pasta is usually relegated to a few grated spoonfuls, so you’re ultimately not taking in as much sodium as you would other hard cheeses. But ounce for ounce, it’s not necessarily low in sodium. “The FDA serving for Parmesan is five grams, and in comparison, the serving size for most cheeses is 30 grams and with about 190 mg of sodium,” says Roussell. “The serving size is small since most people only use Parmesan as a flavor ingredient and not as part of a meal.”

Per serving: 40 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 121 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 4 g protein

How to eat it: Easy Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Skinny Ms

Pop ‘em in your mouth like chips or serve them as a side dish—either way, this recipe is the perfect way to get you to eat that vegetable.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 136 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated), 10 g carbs, 296 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein

5. Fresh Mozzarella

svariophotoGetty Images

Margherita pizza and bruschetta lovers, unite. The key here is to opt for fresh mozzarella—the type you’d see in Italy—since it’s a high-moisture, fresh cheese that does not require the use of salt to remove moisture or facilitate aging, according to Roussell.

“What Americans typically consider mozzarella is often sold in shreds for pizza, and is a firmer cheese than the Italian variety,” he says. “American mozzarella has a lower moisture composition and a longer shelf-life. Salt is necessary to remove moisture, preserve the cheese texture, and provide a component of the flavor.”

Per serving: 85 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated), 1 g carbs, 138 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 6 g protein

How to eat it: Grilled Veggie Towers With Mozzarella

Skinny Taste

For all those times you ordered the vegetarian menu at a wedding, and wished you could recreate that mouth-watering appetizer at home.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 194 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 234 mg sodium, 4 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein

6. Swiss

HandmadePicturesGetty Images

The holiest of the cheeses is traditionally low in sodium. “The manufacturing process is slower, which allows the moisture to be removed with lower salt addition,” says Roussell. Plus, it contains naturally present propionic acid (a short-chain saturated fatty acid) that aids in its preservation during aging, according to the NIH.

Per serving: 50 calories, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 1 g carbs, 56 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein

How to eat it: Asparagus and Swiss Cheese Frittata

Skinny Taste

Make a big batch for breakfast and take it to work for lunch the next day.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 226 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated), 13 g carbs, 276 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 21 g protein

7. Monterey Jack

MSPhotographicGetty Images

There’s something about Monterey Jack that pairs perfectly with Mexican cuisine, and I’m not complaining. While it still contains a decent amount of sodium, Roussell says that compared to cheddar, “Jack has a high moisture and is typically aged for a much shorter time, reducing the need for salt. In addition, some Jack cheeses have peppers added, which mask the blandness that can arise in low-sodium products.”

Per serving: 53 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 133 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 5 g protein

How to eat it: Turkey Burger with Avocado Relish

Skinny Ms

Your summer BBQ just got a lot more interesting with homemade patties on whole-grain buns and the cheesiest, creamiest toppings you could ever want.

Get the recipe

Per serving: 352 calories, 17 g fat (5 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 435 mg sodium, 2 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 23 g protein

Speaking of dairy…watch Aja Naomi King taste test ALL the high-protein ice creams:

Cheeses to avoid

While high-sodium cheeses are perfectly fine in moderation, you should steer clear of them if your doctor has put you on a low-sodium diet. In a 2014 study from BJM Open, researchers examined 612 samples of 23 types of cheese and ranked them.

The five saltiest:

  1. Halloumi (approx 330 mg sodium/serving)
  2. Imported blue cheese (approx 325 mg sodium/serving)
  3. Feta (approx 323 mg sodium/serving)
  4. Processed cheeses (like string cheese) (approx 200-300 mg/serving)
  5. Edam (approx 276 mg sodium/serving)

So how salty is salty? Well, it turns out, halloumi, blue, and feta pack more salt than seawater! So yeah, if you’re looking to keep the sodium down, stick to one of the low-sodium cheeses above.

Marissa Miller Marissa Miller has spent a decade editing and reporting on women’s health issues from an intersectional lens with a focus on peer-reviewed nutrition, fitness trends, mental health, skincare, reproductive rights and beyond.

5 Low-sodium Foods that Might Surprise You

Americans seem to like a little food with their salt — on average, we each consume almost 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium every day. Let’s put that into context: The American Heart Association recommends we consume no more than 1 teaspoon of salt a day, which equals 2,300 mg of sodium or less. The recommendation drops to 1,500 mg of sodium for people who suffer from or are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. If you’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, it’s always better to choose unprocessed or minimally processed foods. For example, consider the tomato.

Tomatoes are packed full of potassium and magnesium, but not sodium. In fact, they are a great low-sodium food to add to your diet. But as the tomato becomes more processed, the sodium levels change.

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One cup of fresh tomato contains about 10 mg of sodium. Turn that tomato into 1 cup of tomato juice or 1 cup of tomato soup, and the sodium content jumps to about 700 mg. Even worse? One cup of store-bought tomato sauce contains nearly 1,000 mg of sodium, with heart-healthy versions bringing the count down to 720 mg per cup.

Surprised? You’ll also be surprised at some of the foods with low (or no) sodium. First surprise food: cheese.

What the Label Means

Reading labels is an important part of choosing what foods you buy and eat. Don’t let food labels mislead you, though. Here’s what you need to know about sodium content:

  • While these may or may not be naturally low-sodium foods, labels claiming no salt added/unsalted mean no salt was added during processing.
  • Low-sodium foods contain 140 mg or less per serving.
  • Very low-sodium foods contain 35 mg or less per serving.
  • Salt-free/sodium-free foods must contain no more than 5 mg per serving.

What are the health benefits of carrots?

Share on PinterestCarrots contain vitamin A, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

Carrots are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also a good source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are nutrients present in plant-based foods. They help the body remove free radicals, unstable molecules that can cause cell damage if too many accumulate in the body.

Free radicals result from natural processes and environmental pressures. The body can eliminate many free radicals naturally, but dietary antioxidants can help, especially when the oxidant load is high.

Below are some ways in which carrots can support health.

Vision

Can carrots help you see in the dark? In a way, yes.

Carrots contain vitamin A, and a vitamin A deficiency may result in xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease. Xerophthalmia can cause night blindness or difficulty seeing when levels of light are low.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, a lack of vitamin A is one of the main preventable causes of blindness in children.

So, in a way, carrots can help you see in the dark.

However, most people’s vision is unlikely to improve from eating carrots, unless they have a vitamin A deficiency.

Carrots also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and the combination of the two may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a type of vision loss.

Learn about 10 foods that can help maintain eye health.

Cancer

Too many free radicals in the body may increase the risk of various types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The antioxidant effects of dietary carotenoids — yellow, orange, and red organic pigments present in carrots and other vegetables — may reduce this risk. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two examples of these carotenoids.

One medium-sized raw carrot, weighing 61 grams (g), contains 509 micrograms (mcg) RAE of vitamin A.

It also provides 5,050 mcg of beta carotene and 2,120 mcg of alpha carotene , two provitamin A antioxidants that the body can convert into more vitamin A, as needed.

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, female adults need to consume at least 700 mcg RAE of vitamin A each day, while male adults need at least 900 mcg RAE.

Prostate cancer: A 2015 review of studies suggested a link between a diet rich in carotenoids and a lower risk of prostate cancer. However, confirming the association, then determining its cause, would require more research.

Leukemia: In 2011, researchers found evidence that nutrients in carrot juice extract could kill leukemia cells and slow or stop their progression.

Lung cancer: Also in 2011, researchers concluded that drinking carrot juice may help prevent the type of damage that leads to lung cancer in smokers.

Earlier, a 2008 meta-analysis indicated that participants with high intakes of various carotenoids had a 21% lower risk of lung cancer, after adjusting for smoking, than participants in control groups.

What is the link between cancer and diet? Find out here.

Digestive health

Consuming more carotenoid-rich foods may lower the risk of colon cancer, according to 2014 research that included data from 893 people.

The findings of a study published the following year suggest that people who consume a high-fiber diet have a lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who consume little fiber.

A medium carrot contains 1.7 g of fiber, or between 5% and 7.6% of a person’s daily needs, depending on their age and sex. Meanwhile, 1 cup of chopped carrots provides 3.58 g of fiber.

High-fiber foods can promote gut health, but which foods should we avoid?

Diabetes control

Carrots have a sweet flavor and contain natural sugars. What does this mean for people with diabetes?

Carbohydrates make up around 10% of a carrot, and nearly half of this is sugar. Another 30% of this carbohydrate content is fiber. A medium carrot provides 25 calories.

Overall, this makes a carrot a low-calorie, high-fiber food that is relatively low in sugar. For this reason, it scores low on the glycemic index (GI). This index can help people with diabetes understand which foods are likely to raise their blood sugar levels.

Boiled carrots have a GI score of around 39. This means that they are unlikely to trigger a blood sugar spike and are safe for people with diabetes to eat.

Meanwhile, authors of a 2018 review concluded that consuming a high-fiber diet may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. High-fiber foods may also help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

What is the 7-day diabetes diet plan? Find out here.

Blood pressure and cardiovascular health

The fiber and potassium in carrots may help manage blood pressure.

The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to add less salt, or sodium, to meals, while eating more foods that contain potassium, such as carrots. Potassium helps relax the blood vessels, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues.

One medium carrot provides around 4% of a person’s daily requirement of potassium.

Meanwhile, a 2017 review concluded that people with a high fiber intake are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who eat little fiber. Eating plenty of fiber may also help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol in the blood.

Which foods may help reduce blood pressure? Find out here.

Immune function and healing

Another antioxidant that carrots provide is vitamin C.

Vitamin C contributes to collagen production. Collagen is a key component of connective tissue and essential for wound healing and keeping the body healthy.

The vitamin is also present in immune cells, which help the body fight disease. A healthy immune system may prevent a range of diseases, including cancer, according to a 2017 study.

If a person is unwell, the immune system has to work harder, and this may compromise vitamin C levels.

Some experts believe that taking additional vitamin C may boost the immune system’s function when it is under stress. Consuming vitamin C may, for example, slightly reduce the severity and duration of a cold.

Learn about 15 foods that can boost your immune system.

Bone health

Carrots contain vitamin K and small amounts of calcium and phosphorus. All of these contribute to bone health and may help prevent osteoporosis.

A balanced diet can help keep the bones healthy. Are there other natural ways to do this? Find out here.

12 Foods that Have Crazy High Levels of Salt

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The recommended daily value (DV) for salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl), is around 2300 milligrams.

But, because of the huge amounts of sodium found in the foods we eat – even ones we wouldn’t expect to be so terribly high – we often get far more than 2300 mg in a day, sometimes even over the course of a single meal! On average, most of us consume around 3300 mg a day – well above the recommended DV.

If you’re working out regularly, that’s actually not a horrible intake. You lose a fair amount of sodium through sweat, so having a bit extra is helpful.

But, if you’re sedentary, you generally want to stick to the normal guidelines.

Many of us also consume far, far more than that.

So if you want to know more foods to watch out for, or which foods to wise up and find low-sodium alternatives for, I’m here to help.

None of these foods are entirely bad for you, and you don’t have to cut them out entirely. But, keep an eye on their nutrition labels if you’re trying to watch your sodium intake.

Bread

The whole grains used in a lot of breads are naturally low in salt, but lots of salt ends up being added in the bread creation process to enhance the flavor.

A single slice of bread can contain anywhere from 100 to 170 milligrams of sodium, meaning you’re getting around 7% of your daily intake from a single slice of bread.

Cold Cuts

While deli meat can be a great source of protein and making them into a sandwich can be a quick and easy meal, those little slices of ham, bologna, or turkey breast are packed with sodium.

And it isn’t only for flavoring. Sodium nitrate is added to fight off bacteria, provide color and texture, and to mask unsavory flavors.

Making a sandwich out of the stuff can lead to more than half of your sodium DV, as 3 slices of turkey breast contain around 1,050 milligrams. With two slices of bread and whatever condiments you choose, you’re eating a particularly salty meal.

Pre-Packaged Foods

With our lives as busy as they are these days, a TV dinner we can pop in the microwave for a few minutes and serve immediately sounds pretty tempting. Sadly, they pack a frightening amount of salt.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found these convenience meals exceeded federal guidelines on sodium content more than 70% of the time.

Broke college students beware. Foods like ramen noodles, when prepared with the included seasoning packets, can contain up to 1,820 mg of sodium in a single serving. So think twice before you double up.

Veggie Burgers

Vegetarian options may be healthier in a lot of ways – if you eat veggies, but unfortunately, when turning to the packaged stuff it’s usually made of heavily processed ingredients.

Aside from their other questionable ingredients, veggie burgers are just as crazy salty as anything else on this list. Each average veggie patty has between 300 and 400 mg of sodium. Luckily, it’s possible to find healthier, low-sodium veggie burger options, too.

Soups

Canned soups or what you find in a restaurant might seem like the low calorie option, but they can usually contain up to half your DV of sodium in a serving.

For instance, a can of Campbell’s French Onion Soup contains about 1,350 mg of sodium.

The recommended serving size is normally around a single cup, but a regular bowl of soup usually contains about 2 cups.

A can of Amy’s Minestrone, usually known for their organic options, contains 580 mg of sodium per cup. Even their low-sodium options are between 290 and 340 mg per cup.

So, while soup might be your go-to meal for an easy lunch or to make you feel better on a sick day, try to find the soup with the lowest possible amount of salt per serving.

Soy Sauce

We’re used to adding extras to our foods to enhance the flavor, some meals just don’t seem right without them. And it’s no surprise that they contain a lot of salt because of the way they taste, but the actual amount is the real shocker.

When you make a pot of rice, you’re usually thinking about including some soy sauce in your bowl. A tablespoon of soy sauce has up to 1,228 mg of sodium! That’s half of your daily value right there, and that’s not even considering the rest of your meal – let alone the rest of your day.

Cottage Cheese

When you think of cottage cheese, you probably imagine it to be one of the healthier snacks you could eat. And it’s true, cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and protein.

But a half cup of cottage cheese contains around 400 mg of sodium. A full serving of it can be nearly a third of your sodium DV.

So if you’re a fan of the lumpy cheese, search for the no-salt-added variety.

Breakfast Cereal

High fiber breakfast cereals can have anywhere from 180 mg to 300 mg per serving.

Check the labels carefully on the cereals you choose, even those that claim to be beneficial for heart health, as they might contain way more sodium than expected. Shredded wheat or oatmeal is always a strong option for low-sodium content.

Restaurant Food

Pretty much every meal you can order from a restaurant contains an extreme amount of sodium. Recent research by the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed that nearly 85% of the adult options found in a selection of popular restaurant chains exceeded the DV for salt.

A lot of the reason why restaurant food often tastes better than what you could prepare at home is because of its additional salt content. So next time you consider going out, cook at home instead – or try and find a low-sodium option in the menu.

Pizza

A single slice of cheese pizza contains more than a quarter of your recommended dietary allowance of sodium.

Odds are, the toppings are pretty heavily salted as well. And who really stops at just one slice?

It’s tough to limit salt in a pizza, though, so try and limit your intake to the very odd ‘special’ occasion.

Spaghetti Sauce

A single cup of the tomato based sauce contains up to 1,200 mg of sodium!

That’s why it’s highly recommended that you make your own sauce when eating spaghetti – just use fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil. Mix in some fresh veggies as well to give yourself an even healthier dish, and avoid all that salt.

Processed Cheese

You remember that canned Kraft Cheez Whiz kids love so much?

Two tablespoons of it, the recommended serving, contains 597 mg of sodium.

So if you’re trying to live healthier, be careful about enjoying too much processed cheese.

Without ever having to subscribe to any crazy diet plans, you can reduce the amount of sodium in your diet by paying attention to nutrition labels, particularly to serving sizes.

What’s your take on these high salt foods? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Sodium-Controlled Diet

Sodium Guidelines

Sodium is a mineral found naturally in foods and also added to foods. Sodium plays an important role in maintaining normal fluid balance in the body. A low-sodium diet is important to follow in order to control your heart failure symptoms and prevent future heart problems.

  • Limiting your sodium and fluid intake will help prevent and control the amount of fluid around your heart, lungs, or in your legs.
  • When you carry extra fluid, it makes your heart work harder and may increase your blood pressure.

A low-sodium diet means more than eliminating the salt shaker from the table!

  • One teaspoon of table salt = 2,300 mg of sodium

General Guidelines

  • Eliminate the salt shaker.
  • Avoid using garlic salt, onion salt, MSG, meat tenderizers, broth mixes, Chinese food, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbeque sauce, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, pickle relish, bacon bits, and croutons.
  • Use fresh ingredients and/or foods with no added salt.
  • For favorite recipes, you may need to use other ingredients and delete the salt added. Salt can be removed from any recipe except for those containing yeast.
  • Try orange, lemon, lime, pineapple juice, or vinegar as a base for meat marinades or to add tart flavor.
  • Avoid convenience foods such as canned soups, entrees, vegetables, pasta and rice mixes, frozen dinners, instant cereal and puddings, and gravy sauce mixes.
  • Select frozen meals that contain around 600 mg sodium or less.
  • Use fresh, frozen, no-added-salt canned vegetables, low-sodium soups, and low-sodium lunchmeats.
  • Look for seasoning or spice blends with no salt, or try fresh herbs, onions, or garlic.
  • Do not use a salt substitute unless you check with your doctor or dietitian first, due to potential drug or nutrient interactions.
  • Be aware of and try to limit the “Salty Six” (American Heart Association), which include:
    • Breads, rolls, bagels, flour tortillas, and wraps.
    • Cold cuts and cured meats.
    • Pizza.
    • Poultry (much poultry and other meats are injected with sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts for sodium content or read the package for a description of a solution, for example, “Fresh chicken in a 15% solution.”)
    • Soup.
    • Sandwiches.

Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you make the best low-sodium selections. Food labels are standardized by the U.S. government’s National Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). Nutrition labels and an ingredient list are required on most foods, so you can make the best selection for a healthy lifestyle.

Review the food label below. Determine the total amount of sodium in this product, or ask your dietitian or healthcare provider to show you how to read food labels and apply the information to your personal needs.

Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight. Limit your total daily calories, follow a low-fat diet, and include physical activity on most, if not all days in order to maintain a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet to either maintain or lose weight often means making changes to your current eating habits.

In order to make sure you are meeting your specific calorie needs, as well as vitamin and mineral needs, a registered dietitian can help. A registered dietitian can provide personalized nutrition education, tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs, and help you implement a personal action plan.

Restaurant Dining Tips

  • Choose a restaurant that will prepare items to your request and substitute items.
  • Plan ahead by reducing your serving sizes of foods high in sodium.
  • Order food a la carte or individually to get only the foods you want.

Appetizers

  • Avoid soups and broths.
  • Request fresh bread and rolls without salty, buttery crusts.
  • Avoid breaded items.

Salads/vegetables

  • Avoid pickles, canned or marinated vegetables, olives, cured meats, bacon and bacon bits, seasoned croutons, cheeses, salted seeds, and nuts.
  • Order salad dressings on the side and dip your fork in them before taking a bite of the food item.
  • Request steamed vegetables.

Main courses

  • Select meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish choices that include the words broiled, baked, grilled, roasted, and without breading.
  • Request plain noodles or vegetable dishes.
  • Ask the server about the low-sodium menu choices, and ask how the food is prepared.
  • Request food to be cooked without salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Avoid restaurants that do not allow for special food preparation, such as buffet-style restaurants, diners, or fast food chains.
  • Avoid casseroles and mixed dishes. Ask for gravies and sauces on the side or omit them all together.
  • At fast food restaurants, choose the salad entrees or non-fried and non-breaded entrees, and skip the special sauces, condiments, and cheese.*
  • Avoid breaded items.

*Avoid salted condiments and garnishes such as olives, pickles, and relish.

Desserts

  • Select fruit, sherbet, gelatin, and plain cakes.

Meat, Fish, Eggs, Poultry, Bean

  • Choose – 2-3 Servings Per Day
    • Fresh or frozen meat (beef, veal, lamb, pork), poultry, fish or shellfish.
    • Low-sodium canned meat or fish.
    • Eggs.
    • Dried or frozen beans and peas.
  • Go Easy
    • Low-sodium processed meats like ham, corned beef, bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs.
    • Low-sodium frozen dinners (less than 600 mg sodium per meal).
  • Avoid
    • Frozen, salted meat or fish.
    • Processed meats like ham, corned beef, bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs, spare ribs, salt pork, ham hocks, meat spreads.
    • Canned meat or fish.
    • Breaded meats.
    • Canned beans like kidney, pinto, black-eyed peas, lentils.
    • Frozen dinners or side dishes with salt.

Dairy

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Choose – 5 or More Servings Per Day
    • Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits.
    • Fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces.
    • Low-sodium tomato juice or V-8 juice.
    • Low-sodium tomato sauce.
  • Go Easy
    • Regular tomato sauce.
  • Avoid
    • Canned vegetables.
    • Canned beans.
    • Marinated vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickles, olives.
    • Regular tomato juice or V-8 juice.

Breads & Grains

  • Choose – 6 or More Servings Per Day
    • Low-sodium breads.
    • Low-sodium cereals (old-fashioned oats, quick cook oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat or Rice, shredded wheat).
    • Pasta (noodles, spaghetti, macaroni).
    • Rice.
    • Low-sodium crackers.
    • Low-sodium bread crumbs.
    • Granola/li.
    • Corn tortillas.
    • Plain taco shells.
  • Go Easy
    • Regular bread.
    • Bagels.
    • English muffins.
    • Rolls.
    • Cold cereals.
    • Pancakes, waffles.
  • Avoid
    • Croissants, sweet rolls, Danish, doughnuts.
    • Regular crackers.
    • Pasta and rice prepared with cream, butter, or cheese sauces.
    • Scalloped potatoes.
    • Instant cooked cereal packs.
    • Bread, baking and stuffing mixes.
    • Frozen or boxed mixes for rice, pasta and potatoes.
    • Regular bread crumbs.
    • Muffins, biscuits, cornbread.
    • Flour tortilla.

Sweets & Snacks

  • Choose – In Moderation
    • Unsalted nuts.
    • Low-sodium potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and other snacks.
    • Sherbet, sorbet, Italian ice, popsicles.
    • Fig bars, gingersnaps.
    • Jelly beans and hard candy.
  • Go Easy
    • Angel food cake.
    • Home cakes, cookies, and pies.
    • Brownies.
  • Avoid
    • Regular potato chips, pretzels, popcorn and other salted snacks.
    • Salted nuts and seeds.
    • Pork rinds.
    • Breaded meats.

Fats, Oils, & Condiments

  • Choose
    • Low-sodium butter and margarine.
    • Vegetable oils.
    • Low-sodium salad dressing.
    • Homemade gravy without salt.
    • Low-sodium soups.
    • Low-sodium broth or bouillon.
    • Lemon juice.
    • Vinegar.
    • Herbs and spices without salt.
    • Low-sodium mustard.
    • Low-sodium catsup.
    • Low-sodium sauce mixes.
  • Go Easy
    • Regular butter or margarine.
    • Regular salad dressing.
    • Regular mustard, catsup.
  • Avoid
    • Bacon fat, salt pork.
    • Pickles, olives.
    • Canned or instant gravy mixes.
    • Regular canned soups and broths.
    • Regular bouillon.
    • Soup mixes, seasoned salts.
    • Meat tenderizers and marinades.
    • Sodium preservatives or flavorings such as monosodium glutamate (MSG).
    • Lemon pepper.
    • Soy and teriyaki sauces.
    • Worcestershire sauce.
    • Steak sauce.
    • Barbeque sauce.
    • Shortening, lard.
    • Trans fats.

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Cottage cheese and sodium

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