Nutrition-Bites-Sneaky-Source-of-Salt

Nutrition Bites: Sneaky Source of Salt

When it comes to dietary sodium, it is nothing new that Americans are consuming more on average than the recommendation – nearly 50% more than the recommended daily quantity. The body needs a small amount of sodium to carry out functions such as muscular contraction and nerve transmission, but with so much salt added during commercial food processing and preparation in the United States, it is hard to stay away from a high sodium diet.

The American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 2300mg of sodium per day at most. Our bodies only need 500mg to carry out the functions that sodium is involved.

Though the amount of sodium in packaged foods can be found on the Nutrition Facts label, it can be tricky to visualize how much salt is actually in the food we eat. To put the recommendation into a more tangible measurement, it is helpful to know that 2300mg is actually equivalent to 1 teaspoon. The recommendation is to consume 1 teaspoon or less of sodium each day.

It may be surprising to find out how much salt is hidden some of the most unbeknownst foods.

The Super Salty Culprits
Deli meat is a big contributor of sodium in the American diet as well, with around 400mg of sodium in each slice of meat. Canned soup is also commonly packed with sodium, containing up to half of the daily recommendation in just a ½-cup serving. A typical can of soup can contain more than double the daily recommendation.

Carb-Focused Foods
Bread products often have more sodium than expected, even though they may not taste salty. A slice of bread, depending on the brand, can contain between 80-230mg of sodium, and a bagel on average has a sodium content of 490mg. Even sugary breakfast cereals have more sodium than it may seem. A standard bowl of cereal contains close to 20% of the daily recommended amount of sodium.

Condiments
Condiments can have a lot of hidden salt. Just 1 tablespoon of ketchup has 190mg sodium (not accounting for whatever the ketchup is being paired with—a salty French fry or hamburger!). Another tomato product, spaghetti sauce, can contain around 500mg of sodium per ½ cup of sauce.

Remember to check the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods when grocery shopping, and be cautious of the hidden sodium in many common foods in the American diet. Try home cooking rather than purchasing prepared and processed foods whenever possible, and look at labels to find lower or no-sodium alternatives instead.

References:
https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/#figure-2-13
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

-Melissa Gallanter
Dietetic Intern

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