Beware of the Salt Shockers

Dozens of foods can drive your sodium consumption way past recommended levels.

By Katherine Kam
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You know salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers are loaded with sodium. But do you realize most of the salt you consume comes from the foods you're picking at the grocery store? It's not just the salt shaker, says Rosemary Yurczyk, MS, RD, CDE, dietitian and diabetes educator at the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Government guidelines recommend that people consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day -- about one teaspoon of salt. So if you eat three meals a day, you'll want to stay within 800 milligrams of sodium per meal, Yurczyk says.

Trouble is, it's so easy to go overboard, even if you just want to add some extra flavor to your poultry or a little sauce over the pasta. Check out the sodium stats, reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • Dehydrated onion soup mix (1 packet): 3,132 milligrams
  • Seasoned bread crumbs (1 cup): 2,111 milligrams
  • Spaghetti sauce (1 cup): 1,203 milligrams

But what if you just want a cup of soup, or you often microwave a frozen meal for lunch or dinner? What if you simply must have that favorite canned veggie side dish your Grandma always served? Check your numbers:

  • Canned chicken noodle soup (1 cup): 1,106 milligrams
  • Frozen turkey and gravy (5 ounces): 787 milligrams
  • Canned cream-style corn (1 cup): 730 milligrams