10 Surprising Places to Find Salt

Salt is a cook’s best friend. That means it’s the best friend of restaurants, food producers, and fast food chains. You’d be surprised to see the foods that have lots of salt. In fact, the majority of salt entering our body has snuck in there by eating heavily processed foods. But how do you know where salt is and how to monitor your salt intake? Here’s a list of the top places that you would not necessarily think of to find salt.

  1. Tomato Sauce. This realization hurt me a little bit because I use it quite frequently when I slow cook or make soups. Some cans have an excess of 400+ mg of sodium per serving. If you take into account, that a 28oz can of tomato sauce has 13 servings, you can see the dilemma. Make sure to use reduced sodium tomato sauces whenever possible.
  2. Chicken stock and broth. Chicken stock is a very common ingredient for foods like chicken n’ dumplings and a wide variety of soups. Chicken stock is loaded with salt to an amazingly high level. I try to avoid chicken stock by flavoring water with herbs and spices or by making my own by boiling chicken bones in a pot of water, but if that’s not possible I recommend finding reduced sodium varieties of it.
  3. Flour tortillas. As a Mexican food lover, I was conflicted when I read the nutrition facts on flour tortillas. It has a variety of uses and all of them taste amazing. Unfortunately, it also has 350+ mg of sodium per tortilla. If you use flour tortillas, make sure to reduce the salt content in the fillings of whatever you are making. Use plenty of vegetables, beans, or rice in homemade burritos and tacos.
  4. Canned vegetables. To protect the taste of the vegetables and their shelf-life, food manufacturers load canned vegetables with tremendous amounts of salt. I recommend having a combination of fresh vegetables and canned or frozen vegetables. Rely on the fresh and frozen vegetables primarily, and when supplies get low switch to canned vegetables. Of course, make sure you get the low sodium canned vegetables.
  5. Bread crumbs. Anyone that knows fried chicken knows about bread crumbs. Bread crumbs are often used as a topping in macaroni, pastas, and soups. Unfortunately, it is also loaded with high amounts of salt. ¼ cup of bread crumbs contains about 400 mg of sodium. If you have day old bread, you can make your own bread crumbs by shredding it with a food processor or blender then putting it in the oven for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, try to minimize the amount of bread crumbs you use. And if you are making a breading, make sure to not add any additional salt to the bread crumbs.
  6. Ramen noodles. That Ramen has a lot of salt is not really a surprise, but I think you would be surprised at just how much salt it has. Top Ramen has 800 mg of sodium a serving. Remember that a pack of ramen noodles contains two servings, so if you eat the entire package you are eating 1600 mg of sodium!!! That is close to your entire recommended daily value. The best way to eat ramen is to add your own spices and herbs to the noodles rather than use the seasoning pack provided. Trust me. Your arteries will thank you.
  7. Parmesan Cheese. Cheeses come in a variety of tastes and textures, but parmesan cheese is without a doubt one of the saltiest. ¼ cup of parmesan cheese has close to 500mg of salt and, let’s be real here, who really eats less than ¼ cup of parmesan? Parmesan is a special occasion cheese, so use it to treat yourself only. Other cheeses are, generally, much better in terms of salt content. Make sure to get low sodium varieties whenever possible.
  8. Canned Soups. Canned soups are horrible offenders in terms of salt content. Avoid them at all times. Even “healthier” varieties of canned soup can contain tremendous amounts of salt. ½ a cup of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup contains 890 mg of sodium!
  9.  Bread. I already put bread crumbs on the list, but this wouldn’t be a legitimate list if bread was not included. One slice of white bread can have between 80 and 230 mg of sodium. Bread doesn’t have the most salt content, but it is definitely the sneakiest source of sodium because we eat it so frequently. Let’s say you get really hungry and decide to eat 2 sandwiches for lunch. The bread alone on your sandwiches could contain as much as 920 mg of sodium.
  10. Almost everything that has been processed that I haven’t mentioned. This is a cop out item, but I really can’t reiterate this point enough. If at all possible, make as many meals at home as you can. The majority of the salt entering your body is not salt that you put in food, but the salt other people put in your food for you. The more middle men you can cut out, the healthier you will be and feel.
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