Sodium Fix: Five Foods With the Most Salt

Jun 25, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.
Pass (on) the salt. (Photo: Duchamp/Creative Commons)

There's been much to-do about salt lately. In April, the Institute of Medicine said that 100,000 lives could be saved each year with salt cutbacks.

The FDA heeded the warning, promising industry-wide reductions in sodium levels on processed foods. Over the next 10 years, with ever-so-slight tweaks to sodium content, the FDA will gradually acclimate us to less salt.

But the Centers for Disease Control say we can do something, too—starting with identifying the most oversalted culprits.

The worst offender is not soy sauce. It's not popcorn. In fact, the top five sodium bombs are not even necessarily that salty.

They are...

Yeast breads. 

Chicken and mixed chicken dinners.


Pasta dishes. 

Cold cuts.

Not exactly what you were expecting, huh? Sodium can be an elusive thing. According to WebMD, which claims that nine out of 10 of us ingest too much sodium, many of the foods with high sodium are surprising. From their website:

  • Grains contribute 37 percent of our daily sodium. These foods include grain-based frozen meals and soups, breads, and pizza (which is mostly salty bread).
  • Meats, including poultry and fish, contribute 28 percent of our daily sodium.
  • Vegetables contribute more than 12 percent of our daily sodium. This seems surprising, but potato chips and french fries are vegetables. And canned vegetables, vegetable soups, and vegetable sauces tend to be loaded with salt.

Salt is no small risk. It leads to high blood pressure, which can cause a host of problems, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. 

But you can be proactive. The CDC offers several tips for keeping your sodium at a minimum. From the CDC website:

  • Know your recommended limits for daily sodium intake.
  • Choose foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Read the nutrition facts panel of the foods you purchase and purchase foods that are low in sodium.
  • Ask for foods with no or low salt at restaurants.

Photo: Duchamp/Creative Commons via Flickr

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