Where Salt Is Hidden in Your Diet

We all try to eat a healthy diet. But you can’t cook every meal from scratch. And, even when you do, sometimes ingredients have things in them you might not want. When a recipe calls for something canned, you might add something less healthy by mistake if you haven’t read the label carefully. It’s frustrating when you’re doing your best to realize just how much salt is hiding in everyday staples.

Sodium is naturally present in many foods. Your muscles and nerves need some to function. Salt is made for sodium and chloride. Too much of either is bad for health. More than 70 percent of the sodium most people eat comes from processed foods or meals from restaurants. And sea salt, pink salt and any other fancy salts that claim to have health benefits are still high in sodium.

When buying processed foods and canned goods, read the label and pick the “low-sodium” and “no salt added” options. A lot of foods you wouldn’t expect to be high in salt are. Sodas, including diet verities, are high in salt. Snack foods, breakfast cereal, condiments, canned and pickled vegetables and bread are also shockingly high. It’s less surprising that frozen dinners and deli meats and cheeses have high salt content. But, raw chicken might be the most shocking source of hidden salt. A sodium solution is sometimes injected into the meat as a flavor enhancer. Because of that, you should be careful what brand you choose. Organic may be your best bet.  

Trying to make healthy choices can be challenging. It can be even harder when you go out to eat.

Even when you think you are making healthy choices at a restaurant by ordering the salmon, for example, it is often loaded with salt,” says Dr. Virgil Dawson of UCF Health. “In fact, most restaurant entrees pack around 1,500-2,200 mg of sodium. You can easily reach your daily limit with one meal!”

When you go out to eat, skip the bread and dessert and listen to your body’s hunger cues. Meals at restaurants are larger than portions at home, so take some home rather than cleaning your plate. And, pick what sounds best to you. The “healthy” options are often loaded with salty dressings and high sugar sauces you don’t think about.

Banner image: Castorly Stock via Pexels

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