We all know we need to cut back on eating sodium, but you may not even realize it's in these common foods.
Where Sodium Lurks
A high-sodium diet can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke -- not to mention leave you feeling bloated and unable to zip up your jeans. But the salt shaker on your kitchen table and the potato chips in your pantry aren't the biggest offenders when it comes to sodium, says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Kim Larson, R.D.N.
To avoid too much sodium, Larson suggests reading labels when you're food shopping (look for products with less than 140 mg per serving, and if you must buy a frozen meal, look for one under 500 mg), picking low-sodium versions of your favorites, and watching out for the following foods.
1. Tomato Sauce
When shopping for canned pantry staples, always look for low-sodium or no-salt-added versions, says Larson. For example, a half cup of canned tomato sauce has an astonishing 642 mg of sodium (more than four times the recommended amount per serving), while the no-salt-added version only has 13 mg.
2. Salad Dressing
If you start your meal with a dressed salad, you could be consuming hundreds of milligrams of sodium before you even get to the main course. A 2-tablespoon serving of low-fat Ranch dressing has 336 mg of sodium, and 2 tablespoons of low fat Italian dressing has 267 mg. Dress your salad with oil and vinegar instead, which are sodium-free.
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3. Pre-Seasoned Rice
The plain grains you buy in bulk? Totally fine. The pre-seasoned stuff in a box is a different story. A serving of pre-seasoned yellow rice has a whopping 750 mg of sodium, while a half cup of cooked brown rice has practically none.
4. American Cheese
Moms, pay attention to this one: A single slice of American cheese has 468 mg of sodium -- that's more than three times the recommended dose per serving! Swap in Swiss for those grilled cheese sandwiches -- it has a mere 20 mg per slice. If the kids won't eat Swiss, try cheddar. It packs more sodium than the 100 mg per ounce Larson recommends, but at 174 mg per slice, it's a much better pick than American cheese.
5. Sandwich Meats
Even low-salt deli-style turkey meat packs a painful sodium punch: A single slice has 216 mg! (And who eats just one slice?) The same amount of rotisserie chicken breast has 97 mg -- and is just as yummy on a sandwich.
- By Marnie Soman
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