Bowl of cottage cheese with raspberries

4 foods with more sodium than you think

Trying to reduce sodium in your diet? Beware: the salty stuff lurks in some unexpected foods.

Have you been trying to reduce your sodium intake?

Chelsea Allen

Chelsea Allen

Good for you! Eating less sodium is a great goal for better health and it’s something we should all bear in mind. On average, adult Canadians consume about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, significantly above the recommended target of 2,300 mg a day. Eating too much of the stuff can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke—the leading causes of death in Canada.

In trying to reduce sodium intake, you’ve probably cut down on the typical offenders like canned soup, frozen ready-made dinners, and bottled condiments like soy and stir-fry sauce. However, you still could be getting high levels of sodium from foods you that might surprise you.

Take a peek at this list of unexpected food sources of sodium and see how many you would have guessed. Keep in mind that over 15 percent daily value (%DV) for sodium is considered a high source

1. Cottage cheese

You’ve probably heard that cottage cheese is a great source of protein and calcium (both true!), but did you know it can also be quite high in sodium? Typical brands in grocery stores range from 290 mg to 410 mg of sodium per half- cup serving, or 12 to 17% DV for sodium. Compare brands to look for healthier options. Some also offer low-sodium cottage cheese, although they are less common.

2. Packaged shrimp

Raw meat and seafood usually gets the green light for sodium – but be careful of packaged shrimp! Even unseasoned raw varieties can have up to 550 mg of sodium (23%DV) per 90 g serving thanks to the addition of sodium tripolyphosphate, a food preservative. Shrimp is otherwise a healthy food, so look for brands without this additive and a lower percent daily value.

3. Baked Goods

We usually associate salt with savoury foods, so it might surprise you that baked goods can be high in it. This comes from both the salt added to the recipe, as well as baking soda, which contains more than 1100 mg of sodium (46%DV) per teaspoon! That’s why you can often find over 300 mg sodium (13%DV) in a serving of cake mix and 470 mg of sodium (20%DV) in a fast-food muffin. Make your own baked goods instead so you can control the amount of salt you add!

4. Salad Dressing

I’m actually a big fan of salad dressing. It helps our bodies absorb fat-soluble nutrients found in vegetables and it makes your salad taste good! But the reason for that flavour is often from high sodium levels. Some brands have more 160 mg (7%DV) in a 1 tablespoon serving. But you might add double that amount to your salad, so watch your portion sizes. Even better, make your own dressing from olive oil, your favourite vinegar, mustard, dried herbs, and pepper.

Bottom line: Even foods you wouldn’t expect can be high in sodium. Always read the nutrition facts table to find options with less than 15%DV per serving, and opt for fresh foods as much as possible!


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