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May 21, 2012

Top 8 Foods Highest in Sodium

Sodium is an essential nutrient required by the body for maintaining levels of fluids and for providing channels of nerve signaling. Deficiency of sodium is rare, however, can occur in people after excessive vomiting or diarrhea, in athletes who intake excessive amounts of water, or in people who regularly fast on juice and water. Over-consumption of sodium is far more common and can lead to high blood pressure which in turn leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The current percent daily value for sodium is 2400mg, however, the American Heart Association recommends that people with high blood pressure eat less that 1500mg per day, or less than 3/4 of a table spoon of salt. Since sodium is required by all life to exist, it is naturally found in all foods and rarely does salt ever need to be added. Steps you can take to ensure low sodium eating include: avoiding canned foods, avoiding pickled food, choosing low sodium cheeses, and substituting herbs and other spices in place of salt. Below is a list of high sodium foods, almost all these foods should be avoided.

#1: Table salt, baking soda, and baking powder
Table salt is 40% sodium by weight, and easily the number one source of sodium for almost everyone. 100 grams of table salt (1/3 cup) provides 38,000 mg of sodium or 1615% of the DV. One teaspoon of salt provides 2325mg of sodium or 98% of the DV. One teaspoon of baking soda provides 1368mg of sodium (57% DV), and one teaspoon of baking powder contains 530mg (22% DV). 

#2: Bouillon cubes, Powdered Broths, Soups
Salt is widely used as an agent to dry and preserve foods and soup broths are no exception. A typical 5 gram bouillon cube contains 1200mg of sodium or 50% of the DV.

#3: Soy Sauce, Other Sauces, and Salad Dressings
Soy sauce is commonly added to East Asian cooking, and now comes in low sodium varieties which are recommended, check nutrition facts of specific products for sodium content. One teaspoon of Tamari (Soy only) soy sauce contains 335mg (14% DV) and one teaspoon of Shoyu (Wheat and Soy) Soy Sauce contains 282mg of sodium (12% DV). In addition to soy sauces, be sure to check labels of most sauces and salad dressings in general, as these foods can be surprising high in sodium. 

#4: Salami and Cured Meats
Salt has long been used as a preservative for various meats, and so it is not surprising to find a high amount of sodium in them. One slice of bacon (8 grams) contains 194mg of sodium (8% DV), while one slice of salami (10g) contains 226mg (9% DV), and 1 large piece of beef jerky (20g) contains 443mg of sodium or 18% DV. 

#5: Sun Dried Tomatoes
Sun Dried Tomatoes are delicious in a sandwich or as an ingredient in pasta sauce. 100 grams (about 2 cups) will provide 2095mg of sodium or 87% of the DV. A single piece (2g) contains 42mg of sodium (2% DV).

#6: Cheese
Most cheeses are packed with sodium, and combined with high cholesterol levels, can be a disaster for your heart and cardiovascular health. The cheeses with the most sodium per 100 gram serving (about 5 one inch cubes) are Roquefort (75% DV), Cheez Whiz (71% DV), Parmesan (71% DV), Cheddar (66% DV), Swiss (65% DV), Blue (58% DV), Romano (50% DV), Feta (47% DV), Edam (40% DV), Provolone (37% DV), Camembert (35% DV), Gouda (34% DV), Fontina (33% DV), Limburger (33% DV), Mexican blend (32% DV), Tilsit (31% DV), and Mozzarella (31% DV).

#7: Snack Foods (Pretzels, Cheese Puffs, and Popcorn)
It should not be news that most processed snack foods are bad for you, and their high sodium content is just another reason not to eat them. 100 grams of pretzels (15 medium twists) contain 1715mg (71% DV) of sodium. Cheese puffs (~15% DV per oz) and regular popcorn (~12% DV per oz) are just as bad. As with all snack foods, be sure to check the labels for specific information. 

#8: Pickled Foods
Pickled foods are typically pickled with salt and thus have very high sodium contents. 100 grams of olives, for example, will provide 1556mg (65% DV) of sodium. That is 3% of the DV per large olive, or 1/5 of your total percent daily value in 7 olives! As for dill pickles, a single large pickle will pack half of the DV for sodium!