Sneaky Sources of Sodium at Home

When it comes to sodium, nutrition experts are still debating. Some say we need to cut way back on it, while others warn on the dangers of not getting enough.

The truth is we do need some salt because, as an electrolyte, it’s important for keeping our bodies functioning correctly. On the other hand, too much sodium can lead to problems like high blood pressure, which is a major risk for heart disease and prevalent among Americans. So, what do we do?

Well, here’s what we know:

  • The American Heart Association says our body only needs up to around 500 mg of salt per day.
  • Recommendations for sodium intake is no more than 2,300 mg per day (the amount in just a teaspoon of salt) and if you’re over 50, no more than 1,500 mg per day.
  • Most Americans are getting a lot more than that, over 3,400 mg, and the majority of it is coming from packaged and processed foods.

Restaurant and fast foods are big culprits here, so cooking fresh and eating at home more is a great place to start. But even at home, there are some places where sodium creeps in and starts to add up. Here are some of them:


Many of the typical commercial breads are made with a lot of salt. Try shopping at health food stores or looking for more natural brands that contain low amounts of ingredients, and very little added salt.


Condiments can be great for adding flavor to a meal, but many of them are mostly sodium. For example, just one tablespoon of teriyaki sauce has 690 mg and soy sauce has just over 1,000 mg!

Packaged salad dressings, salsas, and things like ketchup and mustard can contribute a lot, too. Look at the packages and search for varieties that are lower in sodium. Even better, use natural herbs and spices (fresh or dried), vinegars, and lemon or lime juices to spice up your dishes without any added salt.

Pizza and Pasta Sauces

Watch out for these pre-prepared canned or bottled sauces. The best scenario would be to make the sauce at home to control ingredients. But thankfully, it’s often easy to find low-sodium or no-salt-added options in tomato-based sauces.

Canned Veggies and Beans

While we want to eat as many vegetables as possible and beans are extremely healthy foods, the canned varieties can be really high in sodium.

Ideally, the best choice is to go for fresh or frozen as much as possible. But if you must used canned, look for “no sodium added” and always rinse extremely well before using. Even if they do contain sodium, this can reduce the total amount by half.

Processed Meats

Cold cuts are the biggest culprits. Just three ounces of ham has 960 mg of sodium; turkey has 780 mg. Even less processed meats can be injected with salt, so the best option is to roast it yourself or try out lower-sodium vegetarian options for protein.

The Bottom Line

Salt isn’t evil, but too much of it is detrimental to health—and in our modern world, there are many places where too much is used. For best results, cook fresh meals at home as much as possible, check the sodium content on foods with labels, and experiment with different lower-salt varieties of things you buy!

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