Salt can be a great way to add some flavor to almost any food and a small amount is necessary for a variety of bodily functions including fluid balance in your cells. US dietary guidelines recommend 2300mg/day or about 1tsp of table salt. For certain groups, including anyone over the age of 51 and anyone with hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease, the recommendation is just 1500mg/day. Exceeding this limit can cause cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and strokes. If you aren’t careful, foods at your grocery store can put you way over this limit. Next time you’re shopping, check the labels on these foods and make sure you watch your portion size.
The freezers at the grocery store are full of meals loaded with sodium. Read the labels, as many of the options presented as “healthy” contain lots of salt. A popular vegetarian black bean burger contains 700mg (29% DV) in a small, 210 calorie burger. A grilled chicken quesadilla packs 710mg into a 280 calorie serving.
Sugar isn’t the only thing the cereal aisle is hiding. Some granolas and cereals have 200-300mg of salt per serving. Shop around as there are plenty of cereals without any salt (like Muesli Fusion).
Just half a cup of some vegetable juices will give 100% of your daily recommended value of several vitamins – along with 500mg of salt. When shopping for vegetable juice, look for products labeled as low-sodium.
Bagels & Breakfast Pastries
Several pre-packaged bagels, muffins, and croissants have as much as 500mg of salt. If there’s nutrition information available, consider some fresh-baked options.
Pickles can be a refreshing, very low calorie snack. However, a single dill pickle may contain 900mg of sodium. Fresh cucumbers can be a great, healthier alternative. If you’re really craving a pickle, just be sure to limit other sodium throughout the day.
Cottage cheese can be a very attractive low-fat, high protein snack, but watch your portion size. A half cup serving may have as much as 450mg (20% DV). Look for low-sodium varieties and keep portion sizes reasonable.
With so many salad dressings on the shelves, it’s important to read labels. Don’t let “lite” dressings mislead you. While they may be low in calories, some have over 400mg per serving. Take some time searching for something healthy or make your own.
Everything from corn to mushrooms to tomatoes get loaded with salt when they are canned. Many of these products have over 700mg of sodium per cup. As an alternative, buy fresh produce or find frozen products without any salt.
Salt is often the first ingredient on some common ingredient blends. Buy varieties that are salt-free. They are not only healthier, but a better value because you aren’t buying salt, which is probably the cheapest ingredient in them.