Friday, April 6, 2012

Salt In Food: 8 Eats Saltier Than Potato Chips

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You probably already know that a diet too high in salt can increase a person's risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and dying from other heart-related causes.

But Americans continue to consume close to 3,300 mg of sodium daily --
about 1,000 mg more salt than recommended.

Most adults shouldn't consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. People who are 51 or older, African American or who have high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease should limit sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg daily.

But that can be easier said than done, when you consider some of the sneaky places excess salt is lurking. Sure, you probably already know not to eat the whole bag of potato chips, and that processed meats are full of the stuff, but are you taking your breakfast into consideration?

Not to mention, we notoriously overestimate appropriate serving sizes. A serving of chips is just one ounce, which would be about 15 Lays chips. That clocks in at 170 mg of sodium, or seven percent of the daily upper limit for healthy adults. Other one-ounce servings range from 50 to 200 mg of sodium, according to the AP.

You wouldn't necessarily think of your breakfast cereal as a big source of salt -- especially when so many varieties actually taste sweet.

But from puffed corn with 212 mg of sodium per serving to bran flakes with 220 mg to instant oatmeal at 246 mg, that sweet breakfast can pack a surprisingly salty punch.

Tomato Sauce
It's easy to overdo it when it comes to sauces and dressings, but a serving of tomato sauce is about half a cup. Some canned varieties pack more than 600 mg of sodium into that amount.

When dining out, ask for the sauce on the side so your noodles don't end up drowning in sodium. When eating in, opt for a brand without added salt or make your own.

Not all breads are saltier than a bag of chips, but we tend to eat a lot more bread over all, according to CDC senior scientist Mary Cogswell, who recently authored a report on sodium consumption in the U.S. Depending on the type, a slice can contain anywhere from around 100 mg to more than 200 -- and we doubt all your sandwiches are open-faced.

Those slices add up: The CDC report found that bread accounted for more than seven percent of Americans' total salt intake for the day. (Take a look at the biggest sources of salt in our diet here.)

Bagels, too -- even the sweet varieties, like cinnamon-raisin, can have anywhere from 180 to 250 mg of sodium.

Coffee Drinks
If you already opt for low- or non-fat milk or natural sweeteners in your coffee, you're off to a good start in making that morning joe a healthy habit. But if you're into fancy blended treats from speciality coffee shops, you could be slurping down hidden sodium.

While we totally get the sweet-and-salty thing, the salted caramel trend is more than just delicious; one drink has nearly 300 mg of sodium and others (that don't have "salt" in their names) can still have more than 200.

Canned Vegetables
While we'd all love to eat the freshest, just-picked produce around, it's not always possible to find your favorites at the right price. Canned vegetables, especially if packaged right after being harvested, can still be a healthy choice -- except when the cans are loaded with salt.

Depending on the brand and the vegetable, a one-cup serving can run from 240 mg to 800 mg of sodium, which is added to canned produce to prolong shelf life.

Look for canned veggies without any added salt, or try a frozen variety of your favorite produce. You can also give the veggies a good rinse before cooking or eating.

A serving of ketchup is just one tablespoon. Picture that for a minute -- it's about half a golfball.

Depending on your dipping habits, that might not go such a far way. But where that half-golfball of ketchup does go pretty far is in terms of sodium content. Just one tablespoon packs 167 mg of sodium, or seven percent of your daily recommended upper limit. Squeeze too much more on your plate and it could really add up.

A similar amount of mustard clocks in at around 150 mg of sodium.

Hot sauce, however, can be even worse (although admittedly most people use less). But keep in mind that just one teaspoon packs 119 mg of sodium, so you might want to take it easy on the heat.

The right bowl of soup can actually trim your waistline. A 2007 study found that people who start a meal with a veggie-based soup consume 20 percent fewer calories over the course of a meal.

But aside from the fact that cream-based soups will tack on added calories and fat, some of these tasty starters, especially commercially prepared ones, can be sodium bombs. We looked at the nutrition facts for a range of chicken soups. A one-cup serving can range anywhere from 800 to more than 1,600 mg of sodium.

Because they often have less fat than chips and now are often available in appealing whole-wheat, pretzels generally have a healthier rep than other salty snacks. And while some brands truly are low in sodium, calories and fat, others are even saltier than their looked-down-upon cousin, the chip.

Depending on the brand, a one-ounce serving of pretzels can pack up to 440 mg of sodium. Check out the nutrition facts on your favorite brand, and consider opting for an unsalted bag instead.

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