Sodium is an essential mineral that is important for muscle and nerve function, but too much may put you at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that healthy adults consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day so look out for the following hidden sources.
One cup of chicken broth can have as much as 860 milligrams of sodium. Some canned green beans contain 390 milligrams per half cup. When you use these products in recipes that call for even more salt, the sodium content in your meal can get out of control. Always look for canned foods with “low sodium” or “unsalted” on the label.
From scalloped potato kits to pancake mixes, these products serve as shortcuts to save time in the kitchen, but it may not be worth it. Flavorings and preservatives add excess amounts of sodium to these packaged foods. Some baking mixes contain 410 milligrams per serving. Check labels closely before you decide to save time cooking with these products.
Poultry, Fish, and Seafood
Chicken and fish can be a healthy choice, but don’t ignore the nutrition label just because they are fresh foods. Some poultry is injected with sodium and some fish and seafood are washed in high-sodium baths to improve flavor, texture, and appearance. Injected poultry can have five to eight times more sodium than untreated poultry. Look for labels stating that there is no added salt or sodium.
A salad full of vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein can quickly be ruined by pouring on a high-sodium salad dressing. Two tablespoons of ranch dressing contains as much as 260 milligrams. Trade bottled dressings for olive oils, flavored vinegars, and citrus juice. You can also try mixing up your own low-sodium salad dressing at home. (See 5 Low-sodium Salad Dressing Ideas.)
When you use bread, lunch meat, and cheese to build a sandwich, you are combining three of the worst culprits for hidden sodium. Turkey sandwiches from popular fast food restaurants can contain 800 to 1400 milligrams! By selecting low-sodium bread and topping it with homemade vegetables, roasted chicken or hummus, you can drastically reduce the sodium in your meal.