Most Americans are aware that processed foods are not generally considered low sodium, yet 75% of the daily salt intake comes from foods that are not prepared at home. This includes fast foods, foods from stores, and restaurant eating. Bread is the number one culprit for hidden salt. Although not considered a salty food, Americans consume large portions of bread and bread items such as rolls and buns. Actually, Americans consume more bread than any other food.
For a food to be considered low sodium it has to contain 140 mg of salt or less per serving. For a food to be considered salt free it needs to offer less than 5mg of salt per listed serving.
When you're looking for foods that are low in salt you can start with cold cereals such as Kashi, natural granola, shredded wheat, and Cheerios. For starches, reach for whole grain rice, low salt saltine crackers, or wheat thins. Healthy snack bar choices include Nutri-Grain cereal bars, some granola bars, and several General Mills bar products. Low sodium proteins include eggs, tuna, and fresh lean meats, while fresh vegetables, instead of frozen, are always a better choice.
Cooking your own meals at home is a good first step to naturally cutting back on salty foods. Avoiding processed food, which is basically anything packaged or processed, will also help you cut back on your daily salt intake. Learn to read food labels on the products you buy. Understanding the nutritional facts of what you're consuming will also help you to make better choices.
By reading the nutrition labels on common food items such as canned soup, you will see that sodium contents can range from 100 mg to 940 mg, while bread can vary 80 mg to 230 mg. The next time you choose to eat a cheeseburger, keep in mind that you are consuming approximately 1,690 mg of salt. The soda, fries, and small desert you may have will count as extra!