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10 Foods You Didn't Know Were Packed With Sodium
May 14, 2023Even for the health conscious, hidden ingredients can wreak havoc on a seemingly balanced diet.
One offender is sodium, which is commonly snuck into packaged and processed foods to extend their shelf life.
"Sodium is in a lot of foods you wouldn't think of, including sweet things. Before we had refrigeration, salt was used to inhibit microorganisms. In preventing rapid spoilage, it extends product life," says Melissa Keeney, RDN, a nutritionist at St. Vincent's Medical Center.
Common culprits While you might expect sodium in savory foods like cold cuts, cured meats or chips, more surprising examples include:
Cottage Cheese, Sports Drinks, Cookies, Instant Oatmeal, Canned Vegetables, Salad Dressing, Cereal, Veggie Burgers, Cheese & Jarred Pasta Sauce
The American Heart Association recommends average people consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium, or about one teaspoon, a day. Anyone at higher risk of heart disease or high blood pressure should have no more than 1,500 mg a day, or about 400mg per meal plus snacks.
"Excess salt in the bloodstream pulls water into the blood vessels, increasing the amount of blood inside them. As more blood flows through the blood vessels, blood pressure increases, making the heart work harder to pump blood through the body," Keeney says.
To sidestep the sodium issue, Keeney suggests eating fresh foods whenever possible and choose lower sodium options.
"To add flavor, use herbs, vinegar, citrus and spices," she says. "It does not need to be an all-or-nothing approach. Start by introducing one lower salt meal a week, then build from there."
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