We cannot downplay the role of sodium in our body. It’s incredibly vital for several of our daily bodily functions. That said, the daily recommended intake of sodium is less than 2,300 mg per day which is 1 tsp of sea salt. Unfortunately, the rising heart problems in America tells us that people might not really be aware of the hidden sodium levels masked in what you might think is a “healthy” food. Here are 9 such foods that might look innocent but are actually sodium bombs.
Tomato sauce– This delicious sauce has become a staple in many kitchen, after all it is readily available at every supermarket. Pizzas, lasagnas, chilli or pasta, we can go through tons of cans like nobody’s business. Despite its rich taste, a look at the ingredient chart would leave you shocked, because this small jar can be detrimental to your heart’s health. Most tomato sauce houses upwards of 400 mg of sodium. One can of this in your meal will give you enough sodium to last for days.
Peanut Butter– It is easy to go overboard with peanut butter, without even realizing how much sodium you are ingesting in one sitting. Most commercial peanut butter, don’t just have peanuts. They contain salt, sugar and other additives to enhance its taste and prolong the shelf life. 2 tbsp of regular peanut butter contains 147mg. It is better to look for low sodium alternatives or better yet make it yourself.
Salad Dressing– Blue cheese, French, Italian and Ranch dressing- these are just few of the incredibly yummy dressings available to make any salad or dish more flavorful. Although, taste wise it might receive accolades, but health wise? Not so much. I tbsp of ranch contains 122 mg and 1 tbsp of the famous thousand island dressing contains 135 mg. Other rich dressings contain similar levels of sodium. For healthier alternatives, it’s best to stick with olive oil, fresh lemon juice or red vine vinegar as your dressing.
Lunchmeat/Cold Cuts– Just few slices of those deli meat can leave you severely bloated because 3 slices of cold cut turkey breasts hides up to 1,050 mg of sodium. Add to that cheese and dressing that most people love to include in their sandwich, and you have a very unhealthy meal on your hands. Solution? Make your own meat patty using lean meat such as chicken breast or lean ground turkey.
Cottage Cheese- This is another food that you can easily loose track of how much you eat. Although a good source of protein and calcium, cottage cheese can convert any healthy dish into a high sodium one. Just ½ a cup contains notoriously high sodium content of 400 mg. If you love cottage cheese, look for sodium versions or good old plain yogurt would be a healthier alternative.
Breakfast cereals- When shopping for cereals, people often look at fiber content, sugar and calories,. Sodium is something they often overlook. Just, one cup of Kellog Raisin Bran contains 350 mg of sodium. This is true for many popular cereals, which makes checking for sodium content almost imperative. For healthier choice, switch to shredded wheat or simple oats.
Whole Wheat Bread- Although you might not taste the salt, it’s used in bread as a flavor enhancer, plus for activating the yeast for baking. The sodium level varies between breads depending on its thickness and size. But, on average, it could range from 100-400 mg per slice. Most people take two or more slices per meal, so eat mindfully.
V8 Spicy Hot Vegetable Juice- 8 ounces of this otherwise nutritious juice contains 480 mg. It might not be the most diet friendly or heart friendly option on the market, but there is a low sodium version available if you are really interested. To stay safe though, nothing can beat real and fresh vegetables.
Canned Vegetables– These have some of the highest sodium content hidden within them. There are low sodium alternatives available for some canned vegetables, but if you are on a low sodium diet due to blood pressure or other health problems, you might want to thoroughly check the ingredient label. A cup of canned corn may contain up to 730 mg of sodium and a can of tomato might contain up to 15 times more salt than its low sodium alternative.
A low sodium diet is very important for a healthy heart. Unfortunately, many companies are increasing their addition of salt because of its flavor enhancing ability. Even though you might not realize it, but you might just be taking in your daily recommended sodium intake in one sitting. A healthy body starts with mindful shopping. Your ingredient label should be your best friend. Shop smart. Live Longer.