We eat salt because it makes food taste better.
It enhances the flavor of almost everything we eat. But eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems.
Table salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium is the part of salt that increases blood pressure. Salt and other sodium containing ingredients are often found in processed or packaged foods. Health experts recommend 1,100 – 3,300 mg of sodium per day. Most people eat between 2,300 to 6,900 mg per day.
Breads and Rolls: We know that bagels aren’t the most health-conscious choice out there, but did you know that Dunkin’ Donuts Salt Bagel has almost 3,500 mg of sodium? The investigators found that 65 percent of our daily sodium intake comes from food bought in stores, so if you’re starting the day at the bagel shop, an onion bagel has just 380 mg of salt.
Deli Meats and Cured Meats: Considering adding salami to a sandwich? Six thin slices has the same amount of salt as 39 Ritz crackers (about 1,130 mg)—and that’s just the meat of the sandwich. Go with shaved honey ham instead. The same amount of meat has half the amount of salt.
Pizza: The ingredients in pizza seem simple enough, but get this: Uno Chicago Grill’s Classic Individual Pizza has almost 5,000 mg of salt. Swapping thick for thin, and slobs of mozzarella cheese for feta can save your waistline—this type of a pizza will have around 560 mg of sodium.
Fresh and Processed Poultry: It doesn’t get any plainer than grilled chicken, right? You need to read the fine print with this one. Check the label on raw chicken for something like “10 percent broth solution.” Translation? 60 mg or more of salt per chicken breast. What you want: No added broth.
Soup: A liquid lunch isn’t scoring you any points when it comes to salt intake—especially if you’re eating out. Researchers have found that 25 percent of our sodium intake comes from restaurant meals. Friendly’s Chunky Chicken Noodle? Almost double what your daily intake should be. Substitute Minestrone—it packs about a third the salt.
Cheeseburgers/Sandwiches: Burgers and sandwiches alike can pack upwards of 4,000 mg of salt in between the buns after cheeses and sauces (we’re talking to you, Quizno’s and McDonald’s). Try something homemade like this Turkey-Swiss-Guac Burger. According to the USDA, naturally occurring salt accounts for only 13 percent of our sodium intake—77 percent is added by food manufacturers.
Cheese: The perpetrators: parmesan, and cottage cheese—which pack 850 mg of sodium per 10 tablespoons, and 918 mg per cup, respectively. Go with cheddar—it has about half the amount of salt—or low-sodium versions of cottage that have about 30 mg.
Pasta Dishes: Ramen noodle diet? Might be saving you money, but . . . that’s about all it’s good for. Half a package has a little more than 1,000 mg of salt. If you go with Annie Chun’s Teriyaki Noodle Bowl you’ll cut your salt intake in half.
Meat Dishes: Steak can be tricky—Claim Jumpers Country Fried Steak has upwards of 6,000 mg of salt coated in a batter of salt and fat. A filet, on the other hand, has 1,270 mg. Even better? Try this Grilled Steak Red Wine Butter recipe at just 470 mg of sodium.