You already watch your fats and sugars, and now you set out to watch your sodium. So, you avoid things like broths and processed meats; you’re pretty proud of yourself. Hold the salt shaker! You may not be doing as well as you think.
There is sodium all around you, hidden in foods you may not think about. What are the biggest culprits how can you shop smart?
Pass the bread … to the other side of the table!
If you’re not on the whole ‘no carb’ kick, you may partake in a good old-fashioned sandwich or down dinner roll now and then. What you may not realize is that you may be swimming in salt. A single slice of white bread contains 10% of the daily recommended allowance of sodium and a cup of cereal contains a little more than 10%. Trust us, it really adds up. And, a study in the UK found that kids get more than a third (36%) of their daily salt intake from breads and cereals. Pretty shocking since the carbs don’t taste salty. Nutrition expert Erin Palinski, RD, CDE,LDN,CPT confirms the numbers and says, “Look for breads labeled as low sodium or reduced sodium when possible.
To further reduce your sodium intake, watch out for sodium in what you add to bread. If you add cold cuts, choose low sodium varieties. If you use butter, select an unsalted option.’
Nutritionist Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN says the key is to stick to guidelines of a single portion of bread and not more than ½ -1 cup of cereal. She adds, “Choose mostly whole grain bread and cereal options, and look for hot and cold whole grain cereals with more fiber and less sodium (shredded wheat and plain oats/oatmeal are some options that contain very little sodium). “
Don’t be fooled by the veggies
Vegetable juice is packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, but one serving can also contain more than 20% of your total daily intake in sodium. Zied is a fan of going to the original source here. “I recommend limiting the amount of fruit or veggie juice you drink and to instead emphasize whole fruits and veggies because they tend to pack in more fiber and fill you up better than juice.” If you go for juice, there are low sodium options available.
Watch out for the protein! Raw chicken breasts are often injected with high sodium flavoring solutions. Look for varieties labeled ‘non-enhanced’.
Listen up Veggie Burger Lovers!
Vegetarians or those cutting back on beef tend to turn to veggie burgers when everyone’s grilling up their traditional burger concoctions. But, you may not be skipping the salt. Palinski says, “Veggie burgers are processed and in the processing sodium in added for flavor as well as preservation.”
She isn’t saying to nix the veggie meat alternative, however. “Although vegetable burgers can be higher in sodium than a beef burger, the reduction in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol can be beneficial.” The key is to watch the sodium in any condiment and to use a low sodium bun.
Don’t get nutty!
Dry roasted and salted nuts can contain up to 10% of the daily sodium recommendations per serving. Opt for raw or unsalted options instead.
Read your labels
This is key. You may go for ‘reduced sodium” items, but do you even know how low that goes? “A food labeled as ‘reduced sodium’ just means it has 25% less sodiumthan the original product, which means it may still contain a large amount of sodium,” according to Palinski. She adds that whenever a food says ‘reduced’ or ‘no salt added’, you need to read the Fact Panel to see exactly how much sodium you are actually getting.
Forget the “cool” diets
Frozen diet meals may be convenient, but “they tend to be sodium bombs, so look for small portions and for items that aren’t breaded or cheesy or saucy,” says Zied. Remember, low calorie doesn’t always equal healthy.