Spotting Sodium in Your Diet

Even if you pass on the shaker, salt is everywhere.

Dietician Sabrian Bublitz with Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center says only about ten-percent of the sodium we consume comes from adding salt at the table or cooking. She says 70- to 80- percent comes from processed foods.

Many times, that sodium is hidden in foods you think are good for you. Cottage cheese, for example, can have 460 milligrams of sodium in a half cup. A serving of a canned soup can have nearly a thousand milligrams. Even frozen entrees low in fat and calories are packed with sodium, and some frozen chicken breasts might have a sodium from being soaked in broth.

Bublitz says it's recommended we get no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day, or about one teaspoon. Most people are eating twice that much. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest took restaurants to task for serving up to four times that much in a single entree.

Sodium is a concern because it can increase your blood pressure, putting you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.

Bublitz' advice is to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and cook at home when possible. That way, she says, you control exactly what's being put into the food. It takes more time and effort, but she says it's worth it in terms of sodium.

Bublitz also says to read food labels. They list sodium content and can open your eyes to the sodium content. When it comes to prepackaged dinners, she says to look for those with fewer than 400 milligrams of sodium.

Be careful of salt substitutes. Bublitz says they can be harmful if you're on certain medications, so be sure to check with your doctor.

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