Sneaky Sources of Sodium

Ever wonder which foods are highest in sodium? Find out from Food Network the 10 foods to watch out for if you're scaling back on salt in your diet.

Bread

One slice of bread typically contains about 150 milligrams of sodium — and a pita bread or large chunk of baguette can easily double that. That adds up over the course of the day if you’re having toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and bread with dinner. Cooking up whole grains, like farro or quinoa — and flavoring it with herbs, rather than salt — will help you take in less salt through bread.

Pizza

Pizza contains the trifecta of salt offenders — tomato sauce, bread (crust) and cheese — so it’s no wonder it’s a sodium bomb. Just one slice delivers about 650 milligrams (that’s before high-salt toppings, like pepperoni or olives). And let’s face it: most of us eat more than one slice, meaning you can easily reach half of your day’s sodium limit in just one sitting.

Shrimp

The USDA recently updated its nutrient database with new numbers for shrimp’s sodium tally, and it was a shocker. Turns out most shrimp is treated with a sodium-based preservative that takes a naturally low-sodium food and turns it into a sodium bomb. Just 3 ounces of cooked shrimp delivers 805 milligrams. If you’re buying frozen shrimp, you can read the nutrition facts label to find one that may be lower in sodium. Other high-sodium seafood culprits include wet-pack scallops, which are also treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, and canned tuna (look for a no-added-salt tuna).

Canned Soup

Ever notice how salty soup can be? Yeah, that’s because it is. One cup of canned soup easily starts at 750 milligrams and can top 1,100 milligrams. But you can look for reduced sodium or low-sodium versions (which have less than 140 mg). Better yet, make your own soup and use water. Try this Red Lentil Soup for a delicious, low-sodium soup.

Cereal

Many cereals clock in under 200 milligrams of sodium per serving, but some have as much as 300 milligrams per serving. That easily adds up if you have more than one serving. Slash sodium from breakfast by cooking up a hot cereal like oatmeal. 

Cottage Cheese

Low-fat cottage cheese might be a good source of protein, but it doesn’t win any points in the sodium department. One cup of the white stuff packs in a whopping 746 milligrams of sodium. All dairy, even plain milk, contains sodium (1 cup of milk has about 100 milligrams), but the sodium count really creeps up with cheese and especially cottage cheese. Look for a “no salt added” cottage cheese and then bump up the flavor with fresh or dried herbs.

Sauces and Salad Dressings

Bottled sauces and salad dressings top the charts of high-sodium condiments. One tablespoon of barbecue sauce contains 175 milligrams of sodium, while the same amount of teriyaki sauce has 690 milligrams. Sodium content varies by brands, so be sure to read the label. And make your own salad dressing — though many bottled varieties deliver 300 milligrams per 2 tablespoons, a homemade vinaigrette typically contains much less sodium (and you can bump up the flavor with chopped herbs and garlic). 

Canned Beans

Canned beans can offer a quick, easy high-fiber protein for a weeknight dinner, but if you’re not careful, they’ll also give you a hefty dose of sodium. Two tips to keep sodium in check: 1) rinse the beans and you’ll remove up to 40-percent of the sodium; 2) look for low-sodium or no-added-salt canned beans: they’re sometimes a little pricier but worth it. Better yet, prepare dried beans from scratch without salt. Store them in the freezer for convenient, ready-to-use salt-free beans.

Cold Cuts

Cold cuts (such as turkey, ham and salami) tend to be very high in sodium. Three ounces of deli ham has 960 milligrams of sodium, while turkey has 780 milligrams for the same amount. Just 1 ounce of salami (3 slices) has 450 milligrams. Opting for unprocessed meats, such as chicken or turkey that you’ve roasted yourself, will significantly cut down on sodium.

Muffins and Other Baked Goods

Commercially prepared muffins and other baked goods can also pack a wallop of sodium. One extra-large muffin — the supersized kind you often see in stores — delivers more of everything, including calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium (570 mg). Even a slice of pie can give you over 10% of the daily sodium limit.