The American Heart Association has put together an interesting list of foods with unexpectedly high sodium content, for those who need to watch their salt intake (we all should, to a certain extent). The majority of American adults (over 70%) are consuming two times more sodium than they should,
High levels of salt can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If your blood pressure is already high, watching your sodium intake is probably already a daily part of your routine, but it is a great preventative measure to take even if your blood pressure is at a healthy level.
The majority of your salt intake is not coming from your salt shaker at your table, or even the salt you add to your cooking. Most of the salt in our diets comes from packaged/processed foods (frozen foods, canned foods, pre-made items) or restaurant meals. The American Heart Association has identified six food types that have very high sodium content that most people would not suspect. Keep your eye out when you are dining out or purchasing easy meals at the store for these items, especially if you are watching your blood pressure!
1. Bread: Surprisingly, bread can contain about 15% of your sodium content for the day–which doesn’t sound like much, until you add up how much you consume over the course of the day.
2. Deli meats: Many people are aware of this, but cold cuts and pre-packaged meats for sandwiches contain a lot of salt to preserve them and keep them safe to eat.
3. Poultry: Packaged raw chicken is often high in salt, and so is other items such as chicken nuggets, pre-cooked strips, etc.
4. Pizza: 2 slices of pizza can provide you with your entire day’s worth of sodium!
5. Soup: Specifically canned, but restaurants also load up on the salt. One cup of soup can set you back for your entire sodium intake for your day. Making your own is your best option, because you can control how much salt goes in.
6. Sandwiches: One sandwich can contain as such as 1500 mg of sodium, between the bread, meat, cheese, and then added high-salt condiments.
The American Heart Association’s recommendation for sodium intake is a conservative one. They recommend much less sodium than the USDA, however, it is important to talk your health over with your doctor to come up with an amount that is appropriate for you. To reduce your sodium intake, take a couple of these simple steps when shopping for foods or ordering at a restaurant:
- Look for the red heart and white check-mark on packaged foods, meaning they are American Heart Association approved for sodium content
- Make more at home– you are able to control exactly what goes into your food.
- Check your food labels. When doing so, remember to check the serving size. Sometimes packaged foods such as canned soups contain 2-3 servings, not just one.
- If you want something off the list above, try ordering a half sandwich with a salad, or adding veggies instead of extra cheese on your pizza.