You already know snack foods like chips, crackers and pretzels pack a lot of salt. But even if you don't eat those, you may be on a high-sodium diet without realizing it. Many foods you wouldn't expect are swimming in salt, including bagels, cereals, and even cottage cheese, says LeeAnn Smith Weintraub, MPH, RD, a nutrition consultant in Culver City, California. Most people should stick to less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (those with high blood pressure should limit it 1,500 mg). Read on for 13 sneaky sources of salt to watch for.
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It's no surprise that marinades and salad dressings contain salt, since they taste salty. But it may shock you just how much they have. A2-tablespoon serving of salad dressing or barbecue sauce may pack 300 mg of sodium (10 to 15 percent of your day's quota)—and you often use two servings or more on your food. Same with marinades, which can pack nearly a fifth of your limit in just one tablespoon, which isn't even enough to cover one chicken breast. Control sodium by making these marinade recipes and salad dressing recipes at home.
Cottage cheese is a good source of calcium and protein. Low-fat cottage cheese packs a whopping 28 grams of protein for only 160 calories. The catch: a 1-cup serving can contain almost 1,000 mg of sodium—about 40 percent of what you're supposed to have in an entire day. Look for no-salt-added cottage cheese. Greek yogurt, which contains just 60 mg of sodium per serving, is a worthy high-protein substitute.
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Cereal can be healthy way to start your day—or a salty one. Many cereals have 180 to 300 mg of sodium per serving—up to 12 percent of what you should consume in a whole day—and that's if you only pour one serving in your bowl. Better bet: stick with plain oatmeal topped with fruit, or one of these 20 super-healthy breakfast foods.
Bread is a major source of salt in the American diet, according to the CDC. And bagels are just like supersized servings of bread, which is why one bagel can contain 460 mg of sodium, or 19 percent of what you should get daily. That's for a plain bagel—flavors like asiago cheese or everything add even more, and so does adding a smear of cream cheese (100 mg for 2 tablespoons). When struck with a bagel craving, opt for a bagel thin to cut sodium by 50 percent.
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You know that packaged cakes and doughnuts are packed with sugar and carbs, but they're also salty. One Entenmann's crumb doughnut, for example, supplies you with over 200 mg of sodium (about 10 percent of your day's limit). Packaged baked goods rely on sodium as a preservative in addition to any salt used during baking. These treats already have a lot of negative things going for them (lots of calories, fat and sometimes trans fat), so try one of these healthier cookie recipes at home.