Susan is a Sodium Reduction Specialist at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
For most of my life, I prided myself on being light with the salt shaker. It wasn’t until I started to learn more about sodium that I realized that simply just wasn’t enough.
Only a small amount of the sodium we consume comes from salt added while cooking or eating. In fact, most of the salt we eat — nearly 80% — is already in the food we buy, such as pre-packaged, processed, prepared, and restaurant foods. When you go food shopping, do you know how much sodium is in the foods you buy?
Bread, chicken and chicken dishes, pasta and pasta dishes, pizza and cold cuts are the five foods that contribute the most to our daily sodium intake in the US. Yet the amount of salt in different brands of these five foods varies a lot. For example, the amount of sodium in a serving of frozen pizza ranges from 450-1,200 mg, and for bread it ranges from 95-210 mg per slice. Even the products on the low end of these ranges aren’t labeled “low sodium” – they are regular products you can find in your grocery store.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re choosing less sodium?
Because there can be such a huge difference in the amount of sodium found in foods that appear to be the same, comparing nutrition labels and choosing the brands with less sodium will go a long way. For instance, if you make a sandwich using bread, cold cuts, and cheese (another high sodium food) that have lower sodium levels, you can save yourself hundreds of milligrams of sodium and still end up with a delicious sandwich.
So next time you shop, take a few moments to look at the sodium in your favorite foods. You might be surprised! And remember: Compare Labels. Choose Less Sodium. For more information on sodium, visit www.mass.gov/dph/salt.