Salt, which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride, is an essential nutrient that we need to survive. The problem is, too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure, strokes and kidney disease. Right now the recommendation is that we only need 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day or no more than 1500 milligrams if you:

  • Are over 50
  • Are African-American
  • Have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

In a measuring spoon …

Here’s what 2300 milligrams looks like — about one teaspoon of salt!

Teaspoon of salt

© Olaf Speier

Keeping track of how much salt you’re taking in can be tricky because it’s often hidden in foods. You might think that an obvious way to reduce sodium is to stop using the salt shaker so much. Trouble is, foods that you may think are ok could be loaded with sodium.

10 foods that may hide sodium

1. Bread and rolls. One slice of bread may have more than 200 milligrams of sodium.

loaf of bread/salt

ResoneTIC / Pixabay

2. Cold cuts and cured meats. Deli or pre-packaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium. Two slices of salami — more than 300.

Cold cuts/salt

moerschy / Pixabay

3. Canned Soup. Some cans of chicken noodle soup contain 940 milligrams of sodium

Chicken noodle soup/salt


4. Canned or pickled foods, including vegetables. Often loaded with salt and preservatives.

Canned veggies/salt

© Markus Mainka

5. Spaghetti Sauce.  One-half a cup of spaghetti sauce may contain more than 500 milligrams of sodium.

6. Frozen Dinners. Often loaded with sodium.

Frozen dinner/salt

© renamarie

7. Poultry and pork. When purchased in the store, often injected with a sodium solution.

Woman buying chicken/salt

© Sergey Ryzhov

8. Pizza. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium.

Slice of pizza/salt

Engin_Akyurt / Pixabay

9. Breakfast cereal. Some brands of raisin bran have up to 250 milligrams of sodium per cup.

Bowl of raisin bran/salt

© MSPhotographic

10. Soda. Including diet soda.

Glass of soda/salt

Pexels / Pixabay

About 80 percent of the sodium in American diets comes from processed and packaged foods. Even if you don’t taste it, the salt is there and even if you think you’re making a healthy choice because it says low-fat, it can be high in sodium. If you really want to lower how much you’re getting, you need to read labels carefully. Look for foods that say sodium-free or very low sodium. Here’s a simple chart to help you understand the terms.

Sodium content on food labels

If it saysIt means
Sodium freeLess than 5 mg  per serving
Very low sodium35 mg or less per serving
Low sodiumLess than 140 mg per serving
Reduced/less sodiumAt least 25% less sodium than regular product