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10 high-sodium foods to avoid – Why certain food sources are hidden salt bombs

There are some commonly consumed high-sodium foods that are part of most people’s daily menu these days. As you already know, it’s best to avoid foods with added salt. However, you should also be on the lookout for less obvious sources that are loaded with sodium. Here’s a list of the sneaky sodium bombs you’re better off ingesting infrequently.

What health risks high-sodium foods pose

increased salt consumption and high-sodium foods with potential health risks

Salt is found almost everywhere – in food sources where you would expect it, but also abundantly where it may be harder to find. What’s more, people today are consuming too much sodium chloride, also known as table salt, without even knowing it. Unfortunately for fans of hearty foods, a high-salt diet can have devastating health effects. Scientific research suggests that excess sodium increases blood volume and thus blood pressure . Chronic high blood pressure can also further increase the risk of serious diseases such as cardiovascular problems and strokes.

how increased daily salt intake affects heart health

However, the body needs sodium for important bodily functions such as maintaining good fluid balance, transmitting nerve impulses and moving muscles . So how much sodium can you safely eat each day? The latest dietary guidelines recommend keeping sodium levels below 2,300 milligrams (mg), or just 1 teaspoon per day. A limit of 1,500 mg might benefit you even more. However, if neither is currently possible for you, a 1,000 mg reduction could improve your blood pressure. From canned vegetables to bread, here are secret salt mines you should beware of.

Processed meats and sliced sausage

avoid salami and processed meats as high-sodium foods

Most people know better than to constantly sprinkle their food with table salt. However, daily diets contain many hidden sources of sodium, nutrition experts warn. Sliced sausages such as salami, for example, are packed with sodium. One sausage can contain about 500 mg of sodium, while just two slices of regular cooked ham can contain nearly 250 mg. Instead, choose fresh meat or fish and try to prepare an extra serving for dinner. You can then use the rest for your quickly prepared lunch the next day, experience has shown. However, also check the nutrition label on raw meat. Sometimes even fresh produce might have been topped up with a sodium solution to retain moisture, which can still increase its salt content fivefold.

Breakfast cereals with added salt

colorful breakfast cereals often unhealthy as foods high in sugar and sodium

When it comes to foods with a lot of salt, breakfast cereals may be the last thing on your mind. These products are more known for their high sugar content. Cereals and other processed foods account for much of your sodium intake. A cup of cereal, for example, can contain nearly 200 mg of sodium per serving. This can add up quickly if you don’t watch your portion sizes. Other processed and high-sodium foods for breakfast could be even worse. Pre-made baking mixes can contain more than 400 mg of salt per serving. So instead, try making your own mix for breakfast from scratch with low-sodium baking powder and baking soda.

Avoid vegetable juices as liquid high-sodium foods.

prepare your own vegetable juice or tomato juice and consume it immediately

Even a healthy-sounding option like vegetable juice can be high in salt. So again, it’s important to read labels carefully. The sodium content is usually listed there per serving size. To be considered a low-sodium serving, it should be 140 mg or less. Even a can of tomato juice can be a mini sodium bomb, with more than 900 mg per 300-gram serving. So it’s best to squeeze your own fresh vegetable juice. One medium tomato contains only 6 mg of sodium, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Canned vegetables and ready-made soups can contain a lot of salt

canned tomatoes can be foods with too much salt and cause illnesses

Canned soups and such vegetables could also be foods with too much salt. So check labels and choose products with less sodium per serving. For example, a classic can of 250 grams of chicken noodle soup contains 2,225 mg of sodium. Basically, this represents the total recommended daily intake. On the other hand, you can make your own soup with low-sodium broth and fresh ingredients. To lower your sodium intake, buy your vegetables fresh instead of canned, and be sure to rinse all canned vegetables before eating to remove excess sodium. For example, a half cup of raw carrots has only 45 mg of sodium, while a cup of green beans has about 6 mg of it.

Reduce high-salt ready-made sauces and blended condiments.

asian dish with rice noodles and cabbage before and after preparation with soy sauce

Instead of using the salty mixes that come in boxes of spaghetti and rice dishes, you could make your own flavors with fresh ingredients. By using fresh herbs and spices, you can add a lot of flavor to your dishes without adding sodium. Consider seasoning your meals with lemon juice, ground pepper, cumin, garlic, onion powder and fresh herbs. Also, be careful when adding mayo and ketchup. Ketchup contains about 150 mg of sodium per tablespoon, while soy sauce can contain nearly a whopping 1,000 mg of sodium per tablespoon.

Avoid frozen and prepared foods with added table salt

bake frozen pizza in the oven for a quick dinner

The frozen food section of your grocery store can be another hiding place for high-sodium foods. A single slice of frozen pizza can contain up to 750 mg of sodium, and who actually eats just one slice? In addition, a single serving of frozen meatloaf can contain 900 mg of salt. All that excess table salt accordingly causes your body to retain fluid, which not only makes you feel full, but could also cause high blood pressure. Instead, look for low-sodium options, or better yet, cook your own meals in bulk from scratch and freeze leftovers for days when you don’t feel like cooking.

Spaghetti sauces can be hidden high-sodium foods

ready-made spaghetti sauces can be high in salt and unhealthy

Pasta dishes may appear frequently on your dinner menu. However, if you are concerned about your sodium intake, you may want to rethink how you prepare such a dish. One cup of spaghetti sauce can have a sodium content of nearly 1,000 mg. If you’re a fan of meat sauces, you also need to consider the extra sodium that comes from the sausage or meatballs. Alternatively, you can make your own spaghetti sauce using ripe egg tomatoes and fresh basil combined with garlic. You can also combine pasta with fresh vegetables and olive oil for a healthy no-sauce dish.

Eat bread and pasta less often as high-sodium foods

foods high in sodium, such as pasta, dangerous to health because of high blood pressure

You also need to read labels carefully for bread, rolls and pretzel sticks or chips. Don’t assume that all corn or pasta is the same. For example, a piece of tortilla may contain more than 400 mg of sodium. That number jumps to more than 500 mg for chips and such snacks.

salty chips and tortilla can be bad for heart health

Instead, choose plain varieties that contain little sodium per serving. If you’re grilling, a hamburger bun can also add an extra 200 mg of sodium to your meal. Instead, try swapping out a salad or alternatives for more nutrients without added sodium.

Consume dairy products like cheese cold cuts wisely

various grated cheeses and parmesan next to cheese slices

Dairy also often uses table salt as a stabilizing agent. In general, dairy products can be a good source of calcium and vitamin D. However, some products may not be a wise choice when it comes to treating high blood pressure. Such a food as cottage cheese, buttermilk, and processed cheese, moreover, may be high in salt. As a low-sodium alternative, choose fresh mozzarella with 85 mg of sodium per 30 grams or Swiss cheese with less than 40 mg per slice.

Watch out with canned fish and processed seafood

canned fish contains high levels of added sodium and may promote heart disease

Seafood is a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. Prepared healthfully, they can help lower cholesterol, which in turn helps improve heart health. However, you should choose these types of foods wisely. Shellfish and canned foods are usually high in salt. About 150 grams of canned tuna has more than 300 mg of sodium, while 90 grams of frozen shrimp can contain more than 400 mg of it. A better choice of seafood is logically the fresh products, although the same is true for various types of fish.

finger foods and quick snacks with too much sodium increase the risk of disease in high-risk patients

So before you add high-sodium foods to your cart, follow this simple rule of thumb: the most important thing to remember about hidden sources of sodium in foods is to check your labels and choose products with less than 140 mg per serving. So consume fresh and whole foods as often as possible.