Sodium works to maintain the right balance of fluids in your body, helps muscle contraction and relaxation and transmits nerve impulses according to the Mayo Clinic. However, the average American consumes about 3,400mg of sodium per day – considerably more than the recommended 2,300mg or 1,500mg for adults over the age of 51. While fried, prepared and heavily processed foods are often very high in sodium, there are some foods you may not expect to contain a lot of sodium that you should avoid.
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is healthy and contains a fair amount of protein, but it can contain up to 450mg per serving. Pick a low-sodium brand if you’re going to make cottage cheese part of your regular diet.
Most breakfast cereals are thought of as sweet rather than salty – especially the varieties marketed at kids. However, some major breakfast cereals contain 300mg or more of sodium per single serving. Adding milk to that will put even more sodium in your morning meal. Check the nutrition label before you pick a breakfast cereal to stock your cupboard with.
3. Lunch Meat
Lean turkey and chicken can be very healthy options for quick meals and sandwich fillers, but you want to make sure you don’t pick a brand that has a lot of added sodium. Look for low sodium varieties of deli meats, as some are plumped or flavored with a saltwater mixture that won’t do anything for your health.
Most commercial brands of bread contain about 100mg of sodium per slice. Why? Because consumers tend to associate salty food with tasty food. However, switching to a brand of bread with less sodium is likely something you won’t even notice.
Pizza isn’t known as the healthiest food, but one slice could provide you with about half of your daily salt needs for a whole day. As an alternative, make your own pizza with low sodium ingredients.
6. Canned Vegetables
Canned vegetables are supposed to be a quick alternative to foods like potato chips and other side dishes. However, they’re often loaded with salt, which is used to preserve the taste of vegetables that can sit on store shelves for long periods of time. Buy low sodium brands.
7. Spaghetti Sauce
Like canned vegetables, packaged tomato sauces are supposed to be convenient and relatively healthy. However, they’re often loaded with salt to preserve and enhance flavor. Find no sodium added brands and add salt sparingly on your own if need be.
8. Salad Dressing
Some salad dressings are high in calories and fat, but even low calorie versions can be packed with sodium content. Again, looking for low sodium brands is ideal. You can also make your own, which will save you money in the long run.
9. Chocolate Milk
Particularly troublesome for children, chocolate milk can contain a lot of salt per serving. Even low-fat varieties can be high in salt, so moderation is key if you or your kids like chocolate milk.
10. Wheat Crackers
Wheat crackers might be lower in fat than potato chips, but they can easily contain 300mg of sodium or more per serving. Check the label before you buy and watch your intake if you like a salty brand.