Salt is so in right now — as in, in everything you eat. As any healthcare professional will tell you, our sodium intake is out of control. Both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Americans are swilling as much as 3,600 milligrams of the stuff a day — more than double the recommended intake of 1,500 milligrams max. We all might as well be walking around with our own personal salt licks. And surprise, surprise: all that salt is not doing your looks any favors.
Besides contributing to heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, to name a few, OD-ing on salt dehydrates skin, which means more wrinkles, puffy eyes and dark circles. It also can make you bloated, which — we don’t have to tell you — will not help you squeeze into those skinny jeans.
Cutting back on your salt intake isn’t as easy as putting down the salt shaker, or avoiding the obvious culprits, like pretzels and chips. Salt is sneakier than you’d think, and it’s hiding in many of the foods you’d least expect (grilled chicken, anyone?). To shrink your salt consumption, as well as the bags under your eyes, steer clear of these surprising sodium traps.
With all those omega-3s, sushi falls under the healthy column … if you stick to sashimi and forgo soy sauce. One ounce of imitation crab, the bread and butter of popular California rolls, packs a whopping 238 milligrams. Factor in the salted seaweed wrap and the fact that 1 tablespoon of soy sauce clocks in at 1,000 milligrams of sodium and you’re close to going over your daily sodium intake before you even eat an entire roll.
Bagels might be on your “do not eat” list because of the refined carbs (which your body processes as pure sugar), but they’re sodium villains as well. According to a report from the CDC, bread and rolls are actually the No. 1 source of sodium in the American diet, while more obvious offenders like chips and pretzels actually come in tenth on the list.
Just when you thought cottage cheese was on your side this whole time. Dieters in search of muscle-building protein are better off with Greek yogurt, which has less than 100 milligrams of salt for the same serving size, and almost double the protein.
You may think this boozy brunch punch is your saving grace after a night out, but its high salt content will dehydrate you more than it will revive you. Don’t let the celery stalk distract you. A few shakes of Tabasco, which has 179 milligrams in 1 ounce, can mean you’re downing 640 milligrams of sodium before you even dig into your eggs Benedict.
Don’t worry: We would never suggest you give up cheese for good. Instead, try switching types. One slice of mozzarella has half the sodium of parmesan, and adds a similar Italian flair to your pasta.
Read your labels closely. Sure, a single serving of pickles might only contain 220 milligrams of salt, but when was the last time you ate a quarter of a pickle? Eat the whole thing and you’ve devoured more than half a day’s worth of sodium. We don’t even want to think about what happened to our editor when she drank an entire jar of pickle juice
Mmm, mmm, good — and oh so salty. Just one cup will cost you nearly 75 percent of your daily sodium intake — and one 8-ounce cup of soup has filled no one up ever.
Pasta gets all the blame for its high-carb content, but your sauce is the one sabotaging your diet by piling on the sodium. Try pureeing your own tomatoes and adding fresh herbs and spices next time you whip up spaghetti.
Raisin Bran can be your friend if you’re lacking in fiber, but the high sodium content may not be worth it. Try other breakfast cereals like Kashi GoLean, which has only 85 milligrams of sodium.
Gardenbuger’s Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger, Amy’s All American Veggie Burger and Boca’s All American Flame Grilled Burger each has roughly 400 milligrams of sodium per patty. And you always wondered how something that isn’t meat could be so tasty … all you have to do is check the sodium content for your answer. Add a bun (206 milligrams), slice of cheese (368 milligrams) and a packet of mustard (57 milligrams), and you’re downing over 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
Ketchup The damage: 380 mg in 2 Tbsp
Compared to: 1 serving of Wendy’s small French fries: 330 mg
Still think your fries aren’t salty enough? Maybe it’s a good thing those annoying little ketchup packets are so hard to open.
Chicken The damage: Up to 440 mg of sodium in a 4-ounce serving
Compared to: 2 bags of Doritos: 420 mg
This is probably the sneakiest source of sodium of all. Even though it’s labeled “natural,” a lot of the raw chicken you buy at the grocery store is plumped up with a sodium solution that makes the meat juicier — and heavier, so you pay more. Double-check the labels — a truly natural chicken won’t have a sodium content higher than around 70 milligrams per serving.