Lots of Salt: Disguised as “Healthy” Foods Packed with Sodium

Lots of Salt: Disguised as “Healthy” Foods Packed with Sodium

An excessive consumption of salt is considered one of the main risk factors related to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Photo: Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels / Pexels

We all want to live longer and better, based on this it is well known that one of the main aspects is take care of heart health. Unfortunately, Americans simply love salt, so much so, that it is estimated that the average American ingests 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. Without a doubt, it is an amount well above the recommended limit and is considered one of the worst habits for cardiovascular health. It is also a direct cause of hypertension and other health problems.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that healthy adults limit their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day. However, experts from the American Heart Association recommend that it be even lower: no more than 1,500 milligrams a day, especially in people with high blood pressure or heart problems. High sodium intake is associated with numerous additional negative effects, as it increases the risk of: bloating and water retention, heart failure, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, headaches, stomach cancer, kidney disease and obesity.

Fortunately, controlling sodium intake in the daily diet is feasible and sustainable. The secret is to become aware of the high salt content that some of the everyday consumer products. It is also just as important to cook at home, avoid the consumption of ultra-processed foods, red meat, cold cuts and fast foods. Based on this, we undertook the task of compiling some of the common foods with higher salt content.

1. Pasta sauce

The offer of commercial pasta sauces is extensive and unfortunately, most of them stand out for their high salt and sugar content. Use them repeatedly to season pasta increases the risk of high blood pressure and other conditions related to heart health. For instance: a 1/2 cup serving of Prego Traditional Italian Sauce contains 480 milligrams of sodium, well above the amount in a large size of McDonald’s fries. Therefore a cup of sauce will bet almost 1000 milligrams of salt, a good replacement is the use of olive oil and aromatic herbs.

Pasta sauce./Photo: Pixabay

2. Ham

In general, sausages and the wide range of processed meats stand out for their high sodium content. In particular, the ham is striking, It is one of the richest variants in sodium since they use salt to cure and flavor the meat. For added context: a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of roasted ham has an average of 1,117 mg of sodium or 48% of the recommended daily intake. Also, despite health warnings, there is no indication that food companies are reducing the amount of salt in this popular meat so consumed in everyday life. There is interesting data on this: In a recent national sample of US foods, researchers found that the ham had 14% more sodium than in the previous analysis. It is advisable to consume it only on special occasions or to bet on choosing the variants without salt.

Ham. / Photo: Shutterstock

3. Dried meat

Dried meat is a product that has caused a lot of controversy, some nutrition trends recommend it as a snack rich in protein and that benefits weight loss. Yet they often forget its impressive salt content. Plus, it’s a sodium-packed processed meat after all. For more context: 1 ounce of Jack Links Teriyaki Beef Jerky has 590 milligrams of sodium, that’s almost 200 milligrams more than what is in a large size of McDonald’s fries.

Dried meat. / Photo: Pixabay

4. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese has been positioned as one of the most recommended dairy products to lose weight and increase the consumption of healthy proteins. It is also a good source of calcium, it is light and low in calories, however it is also relatively high in salt. A portion of 1/2 cup (113 grams) of cottage cheese has an average of 350 mg of sodium, or 15% of the daily recommendation. This does not mean that it is an unhealthy food, it is simply appropriate to monitor its consumption. In fact, the salt in cottage cheese not only enhances the taste, it also it also contributes to texture and works as a preservative. Therefore, it is generally difficult to find low sodium versions. However, one study found that rinsing cottage cheese with fresh water for 3 minutes and then draining reduces the sodium content by 63%.

Cottage cheese. / Photo: Pixabay

5. Commercial seasonings

It is very normal to integrate the consumption of sauces and condiments into the daily diet, to enhance the flavor of many dishes. Such is the case of the ketchup sauce, BBQ, dressings and a wide repertoire of industrial seasonings. Unfortunately they are often loaded with sodium, which is added as flavor enhancer and preservative. As a result, these sauces tend to add excessive amounts of sodium to foods, not to mention the salt in other products. The best option is to bet on homemade sauces and choose the low sodium proposals, remember that a simple tablespoon can contain up to 300 mg of sodium.

Ketchup sauce
Ketchup sauce./Photo: Pexels

6. Salsa alone

The fermentation process to create soy sauce requires a lot of salt. It is well known that it is one of the most used condiments in oriental cuisine and the infallible companion of sushi, however it is very important to consume it occasionally and in moderation. A couple of tablespoons contain between 780-879 mg of sodium. Even ‘reduced’ sodium soy sauce is still quite high in sodium, especially since we use so much more than a teaspoon (one serving).

Soy sauce
Soy sauce. / Photo: Pixabay

7. Pickles

It is no secret to say that the process to make pickles requires a significant amount of salt. Finally pickling is a way to preserve food in a brine solutionTypically comprised of vinegar, salt, and seasonings, these acidic and brackish liquids are resistant to bacterial growth, preserving the taste and quality of fresh foods immersed in the solution. It is important to be especially careful with pickles and chili peppers and vinegar vegetables, On the positive side, they also have gut-healthy probiotics. Fortunately, they are a complement that is consumed in small quantities, to accompany various dishes, be careful since many of them shine for their salt content.

Pickles. / Photo: Pixabay

8. Sausages

Unfortunately, according to the CDC this iconic American staple is one of the major sodium offenders. Sausages are the basic element of hot dogs, however we cannot forget that they are a type of processed meat noted for being high in sodium and preservatives (nitrites and nitrates) to maintain a longer service life. As if that were not enough, this type of processed meats has also been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, cardiovascular conditions and hypertension. Bet on enjoying them on special occasions and whenever possible look for “reduced sodium” options. And even better, those versions that do not contain nitrites or nitrates.

Sausages. / Photo: Congerdesign / Pixabay

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