You know the popular Asian dipping sauce is a salt bomb, but what about these foods?
As any bloat-minded girl knows, it’s always a good idea to ask for the low-sodium soy sauce when ordering that spicy tuna roll, as just 2 tsp of the regular kind can contain a whopping 680mg sodium. But there are other foods—many seemingly healthy—that are also surprisingly high in salt, according to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Her recommendation: Aim for no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day (1500mg if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease). In addition to that jeans-and-rings-don’t-fit-feeling, a high-sodium diet can also increase risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, so trimming the salt from your diet is a smart move. Here are five places to start:
Cottage cheese is a dieters’ mainstay, and while it’s a good source of calcium and protein, it can be loaded with sodium, often containing 900mg per cup. If you love cottage cheese, look for low-sodium versions whenever possible, but a better choice is plain yogurt, which has about a 150mg, or an ounce of Swiss cheese, which has just has 54mg.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, certified personal trainer and co-author of The Secret To Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop a Size and Get Healthier also suggests mild, spreadable farmer’s cheese, which contains only 120mg sodium per ounce.
Flaky pastries like croissants are a well-known diet don’t, but aside from the saturated fat (from all that butter) and calories, they also have a lot of sodium—about 400mg for just one. Bread, even whole wheat, can also contain a fair amount of sodium at about 150mg per slice.
“This is always a shocker for our clients because they think bread doesn’t contain much salt at all,” Lakatos Shames says. “It actually has nearly the same amount of sodium as a serving of potato chips, but because the salt is on the surface of the chip it’s easier to taste, but with bread it’s baked in,” she says. Bagels are extremely high in sodium as well—some larger ones can contain nearly 700mg.
Yes, it may seem easier to buy it than make it, but most commercial brands of salad dressing can have up to 300mg sodium per 2 tbsp, and sugar-free and fat-free varieties—which seem like the healthier option—are often loaded with sodium to boost flavor to compensate for the missing fat.
You can choose low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties, but the salt is there for a reason as well—it adds flavor. A better idea, says Lakatos Shames, is to use lemon juice and olive oil or a good balsamic vinegar on your salad.
If you’re choosing chicken Caesar over a Quarter Pounder, good for you, but, like bottled salad dressing, the sodium count of fast food salads is amped up by the packaged dressing. Still, that packet of ranch isn’t the only culprit: High-sodium meats, croutons and other additions can send the salt count sky high. For example, the Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken at McDonalds has 1070mg sodium with dressing. If this is your only lunch option, skip the dressing and toss a few of the croutons.
According to Lakatos Shames, if you don’t look at labels, cereal can easily rack up the sodium in your diet. For example, Raisin Bran, which seems like a healthy choice, has 262mg sodium for one cup, and Frosted Mini Wheats, a so-called “sugar” cereal, has only 5mg sodium per serving.
Read the labels before you buy and choose a brand that has less than 200mg sodium per serving.