A bowl of hot soup makes a filling, healthy lunch. What's shocking is just how much salt most soups contain, especially the canned soups on supermarket shelves. Though a bowl might be less than 300 calories, a serving can contain half of your sodium limit for the day.
When it comes to canned soup, buy low-salt versions whenever possible. After years of eating super-salty soup, you may think it tastes bland, warns Weintraub. Dress it up with freshly cracked pepper, fresh herbs, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. You can also add a few shakes of salt yourself—you'll never add more than food companies would. Or you can cook up one of these healthy soup recipes.
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When you see "reduced sodium" on a food label, you may think you're being served up a lot less salt. However, this FDA-regulated term means that a food has only 25 percent less sodium than the original product. So for a frozen meal that contains 1,000 mg of sodium, the reduced-sodium version would have 750 mg—still high. Reduced-sodium options can be a smart choice if you're slowly trying to cut back on salt, but if you're watching your sodium closely, better labels to look for are "low sodium" (with 140 mg of sodium or less per serving) and "very low sodium" (35 mg of sodium or less).
Some soy and veggie burgers are made with a long list of highly processed ingredients and use salt to enhance the flavor. Patties can pack 400 to 500 mg, and that's before the bun, condiments and cheese.
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The warming drink is a great way to get your chocolate fix for few calories—there are just 80 to 100 in a packet of mix. But one serving can also contain 7 percent of your recommended daily intake of sodium. If you're on a reduced-sodium diet for any reason, then one packet will be over 10 percent of your quota.
You want a sweet brunch, so what's 2,000 mg of sodium doing in your stack of chocolate chip pancakes? Making pancakes at home is a better option than ordering them at a diner, but ready-made mixes (with 400 mg of sodium per serving) and pourable mixes (700 mg for three pancakes) can still serve up a lot of salt.
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Frozen Veggies in Sauce
Per cup, pre-sauced frozen vegetable mixes can add nearly 500 mg of sodium to your meal, particularly if you choose cheesy sauces. Skip these and go for plain frozen vegetables, like bags of peas, onions, corn, and spinach. Frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh, and often more so. Freezing produce shortly after harvest preserves nutrients, whereas fresh produce often loses some nutrients during shipping and storage.
After counting sodium in bread, deli meat, cheese, and pickles, an innocent-sounding turkey sub sandwich adds up to about 900 mg of sodium. Make a sammie at home to save salt, suggests Weintraub. Use lower-sodium options like pita bread, whole grain mustard instead of pickles, fresh veggies, Swiss cheese (it contains a fraction of the sodium of provolone), and low-sodium deli turkey or—better yet—pieces of freshly carved turkey.
Raw chicken breasts harbor a secret: they're often injected with a high-sodium flavoring solution to perk up the taste. To avoid it, buy chicken with the words "non-enhanced" on the label, avoid brands that list salt on the ingredients label, or go for an organic variety. Weintraub likes a brand called Smart Chicken.
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