10 salty foods you should limit in your diet

Jul 14, 2020

St. Joseph’s/Candler Dietitian Julia Gammon also offers recommendations to reduce your daily sodium intake

Do you consider how much salt you consume on a daily basis? It’s worth taking a look at because too much sodium can have negative impacts on your health.

Most people eat too much salt. Americans average about 3,400 milligrams per day of sodium, according to the FDA. However, dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day, says Julia Gammon, St. Joseph’s/Candler education specialist and dietitian.

Julia Gammon

“2,300 milligrams is equivalent to a teaspoon, which is crazy to think about considering how much sodium is in food and how often salt is used in cooking,” Gammon says.

If you have an underlying heart condition or are at high-risk of heart disease, your daily recommended intake of sodium is even less, at just 1,500 mg of sodium.

That’s because too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, Gammon says. A diet high in sodium also can cause weight gain – due to water retention and bloating – and negatively affect your kidneys, Gammon adds.

Related Article: What causes high blood pressure?

Your body does need some salt. It helps with certain body functions and stabilizes fluids in your body, Gammon says. But it’s important to be mindful of just how much you are consuming and the source of the sodium.

“A common misconception is that people think they eat too much sodium from salting your food or cooking with salt, but more than 70 percent of the sodium you consume comes from eating out at restaurants and eating packaged and processed foods,” Gammon says.

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She offers these 10 high-sodium foods you should avoid or limit in your diet:

  1. Breads
  2. Pizza, frozen or restaurant bought
  3. Prepared frozen meals
  4. Deli meats, such as turkey and  ham
  5. Bacon and other cured meats
  6. Pickles
  7. Broths and stocks
  8. Canned foods
  9. Condiments and sauces, such as ketchup, BBQ and soy sauce
  10. Salad dressings

Want some alternatives? Gammon suggests, for example, if you want pizza make it at home. You can control the amount of salt in your ingredients, plus it’s a fun family activity that may even save you a few bucks.

Got to have your deli meat? Get it at the counter instead and ask for low-sodium alternatives. Gammon says brands like Boars Head and Applegate offer low-sodium options.

If you do buy canned items – say for a bean chili – be sure to look for beans, tomatoes and broths that have no salt added or are low-salt options.

Here are some other recommendations Gammon shares to limit your daily salt intake:

At home:

  • Portion out your daily allotment of salt for the day
  • Don’t salt your food as you cook, but to taste once the meal is ready
  • If a recipe calls for salt, omit or reduce the amount
  • Make homemade dressings and sauces to control the amount of salt added

At the grocery store:

  • Limit or avoid purchasing the high-sodium foods listed above
  • If buying canned products, look for no salt added or reduced-salt
  • Read your labels – look for products that have less than 140 mg of sodium per serving with a percent daily value of five percent or less

Related Article: Here’s why you shouldn’t always trust the front of the food package you buy

At a restaurant:

  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side so you can control the amount added
  • Research the restaurant’s menu online for nutritional information so you know how much sodium is in menu items
  • Ask for fresh fruit or vegetables as your side item
  • Split meals or save half for a meal on a later day
  • Ask for your fries without salt

“I’m a big fan of preventing health problems before they occur, so logging, tracking and reading labels are some good things to know and do,” Gammon says. “And of course, stick to a diet that focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and you’ll be good to go.”

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If you’d like to talk to a dietitian about your diet, Gammon does outpatient nutritional counseling through the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center. The initial, one-hour long meeting is $68 and then $42 for each 30 minute follow-up. No insurance is required. Make an appointment today by calling 819-8800. 

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