Our “Shop with your Doctor” grocery store events prompt us
all to look for ways to make simple daily food shopping decisions that
can dramatically impact our overall well-being. I am often asked for some
simple advice that can have a big effect. You can start by beginning to
carefully read ingredient
labels on food and drinks that you intend to buy. First learn what an item’s
sodium content actually is before you decide to buy it. Once established, this
habit will be vital to reducing your sodium intake and improving your
Studies have shown that an adult should not consume any more than 6 grams
of salt per day, but most of us eat and drink much more than that. In
fact, the average American takes in about 3,400 mg of sodium a day —
much more than is recommended. The United States Department of Health
and Human Services advocates that people ingest no more than 1500 to 2300
mg of sodium (3750 to 5730 mg of salt per day) depending on the age of
If you’ve been in a grocery store lately, you’ve probably noticed
that there are more and more low-sodium foods and drinks on the shelves,
from cheese to crackers and soups to sandwiches. There’s good reason
for the change: eating salty foods can dramatically increase your risk
for serious health conditions, like high
heart disease, and even
stroke. The obvious prescription for improved health is to cut some of the salt
from your diet, but sodium is sneaky — it can lurk in many seemingly
healthy foods. Here are some of the worst offenders.
Beware of Breads
You most likely do not think of bread as a salty food, but certain types
of bread products contain fairly high amounts of sodium. To decrease your
sodium intake, the next time you’re craving a sandwich, get some
low-sodium rye bread — the reduced calorie version contains only
93 mg of sodium per slice, significantly less than the 170 mg in the average
slice of white bread. Another good choice is whole-grain bread, which
contains about 127 mg per slice.
Forget Frozen Meals
Packaged low-calorie frozen meals may seem like a convenient way to control
portions and watch your calorie intake, but most of them contain way too
much salt. Some of them contain more than 500 mg per meal, which is one-third
of your recommended daily intake if you are following a low-sodium diet.
You probably do not immediately think of breakfast cereal as a salty food,
but many of the ‘healthier’ cereals like corn flakes and toasted-oat
cereals, have almost 300 mg of sodium per cup. The problem is not the
sodium per serving, but the small amount that counts as a serving size.
A typical cereal bowl can hold one and a half to two cups of cereal, if
not more. To control your salt intake at breakfast, watch your portion
size, and perhaps try shredded-wheat type cereals, which are low-sodium
foods. A one-cup serving of frosted miniature-wheat cereal, for instance,
has only 3 mg of salt.
Drop the Diet Soda
While diet sodas do not have the sugar and the calories of regular soda,
they contain much more sodium — 28 mg for a 12-ounce can compared
to 15 mg for regular. The healthiest drink by far is water. The average
cup of municipal tap water comes in at about 5 mg of sodium.
Cut the Canned Soup
Those cans of minestrone and tomato soup may make for a comforting meal,
but they can be veritable salt-fests. One cup of canned chicken noodle
soup may contain 1,100 + mg of sodium. If you do not have the time or
interest to make soup from scratch, limit your salt intake by choosing
canned soups that are labeled ‘healthy’ or ‘low-sodium.’
While they may not be free of salt, they usually contain much less sodium
than regular versions.
Learn more about
Mission Heritage Medical Group in Foothill Ranch. Learn more about
Dr. Michael Stouder.