JJ Virgin: Nine in ten Americans eat too much salt, according to a recent study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Proposed dietary guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. The study found that most Americans consume more than twice that amount!
The majority of that salt comes from restaurant meals and processed foods like pizza and meat. Most health-conscious people know that convenience foods like soups and frozen dinners are sodium central. But did you know that even some beverages contain added sodium?
Here are some other surprising sodium sources:
- Cereals -- Even supposedly "healthful" cereals often have over 230 milligrams per serving. Instead of packaged, sugar- and sodium-packed cereals, I suggest steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts for protein and fiber. Sprinkle on a little cinnamon for an extra flavor boost!
- Candy -- Four strands of Black Licorice Twists have 200 milligrams of sodium! And the more candy you eat, the more sweet stuff you'll crave. Switch to fruit and add a little xylitol if you need the sweetness.
- Canned sauces -- Marinara and other pasta sauces can have hundreds of milligrams of sodium per serving. Try making your own sauces so you can control the amount of sodium and sugar. Use onions, garlic or herbs to add flavor in place of salt.
- Flavored rice cakes -- Think these are a "safe" snack? Think again! Two flavored rice cakes could have more than 200 milligrams. If you must snack, choose unsalted walnuts or low-glycemic fruits like berries.
The real takeaway: Avoid/limit processed foods and eat closer to nature -- i.e. fresh fruit, raw nuts, a rainbow of veggies -- to keep your daily sodium intake low.