Salt, which can cause high blood pressure, is hidden in many foods — from soup to spaghetti. It’s well known that we need to lower our intake of sodium, but you need to do far more than put down the salt shaker. Most of the sodium we consume daily is hidden in processed and other foods. While you know there is sodium in canned tomato sauce, did you ever suspect it would be lurking in a fresh chicken breast? Prevention magazine has helpfully compiled a list of the six sodium bombs — otherwise healthy foods that are packed with salt:
1. Chicken breasts
Pay attention to the chicken breasts you purchase. Look for the word “enhanced” on the label, because that means it is enhanced with a sodium solution–much like chicken broth–that will make the meat appear to be plumper, juicier and tastier. The bottom line is that a 4-ounce piece of chicken could have between 40 to 330 mg of sodium–sodium you never suspected was there. What can you do? Read labels carefully, because all that sodium is not necessarily listed on the front of the package. You must read the list of all the ingredients. Even if the package says “all natural,” beware if you see any of the following: “enhanced with broth,” “enhanced with Teriyaki sauce,” “sodium” or “sodium phosphate.”
Store-bought bread typically contains between 80 and 230 mg of sodium in each slice, so much so that the Centers for Disease Control names bread and rolls the No. 1 source of sodium in our diet. The sodium is added as a preservative to lengthen the bread’s shelf life. What can you do? Bake your own bread or purchase it at your grocery’s in-store bakery. Fresh bread contains less salt, but remember it will only be fresh for a few days.
3. Deli meat
Even the deli counter’s “natural” or “nitrate-free” meats contain salt, which is used as a preservative. And there is a lot of salt in deli meat, ranging from 450 to 1,050 mg of sodium per three-ounce serving. What can you do? Choose reduced- or lower-sodium deli meats, and because even these are still quite salty, eat no more than three ounces a day. Another option is to choose freshly roasted turkey or roast beef and have it sliced thin enough for sandwiches. Because there is very little salt in these meats, they will only remain fresh for a few days.
4. Reduced-sodium soups
It’s common knowledge that canned soups (or canned anything) contain lots of sodium, but guess what? Even reduced-sodium soups can have between 280 to 480 mg of sodium per serving. And if you’re eating the entire can, that can be as much as 1,000 mg of salt in one meal. What can you do? It’s all in the wording. Look for the words “low-sodium” on the label, rather than “less sodium.” Low-sodium contains less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. You can also look for “no sodium” soups.
Wait… what? There is sodium in pudding? Yes, as much as 200 mg of sodium in one cup of low-fat, low-calorie chocolate pudding. Why? It’s used to enhance the texture. What can you do? Buy the kind that you cook on the stovetop, which has 100 mg of sodium per serving, compared with the instant pudding that has over 400 mg of sodium. Better yet, skip the pudding entirely and eat one ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate for a nearly sodium-free treat.
6. Breakfast cereal
Before you pour a bowl of your favorite cold cereal, check the label. Some of the most popular cereals, including raisin bran and corn flakes, are packed with sodium. What can you do? Choose a breakfast cereal that has less than five percent of your daily value for sodium, such as puffed rice or shredded wheat.