Oct 23, 2014 3:00 PM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Most of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods. “But we also need to watch what we’re adding with the saltshaker,” says Jamie Saunders, MS, a registered dietitian at University of Utah Health. “Avoid adding salt when cooking or at the table, since there is already so much sodium in the foods we eat.”

Your body requires a small amount of sodium to function properly, but most Americans eat too much. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is about one teaspoon of salt. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney damage.

“To reduce your salt intake, eat fresh foods, prepare meals at home, and be aware of sodium hidden in foods,” Saunders says. Here are five foods you might not expect to contain sodium:

nutrition diet sodium

Salty Foods


One large bagel contains 590 mg of sodium, and a blueberry muffin has 620 mg. If you add butter, that means 80 mg of sodium. Low-sodium, whole-wheat bread is a better option.

Deli meat

Sodium is used as a preservative in most processed meats. A three-ounce serving of deli ham contains nearly half the recommended amount of sodium in a day, and salami contains 60%. Instead, eat a chicken breast you baked at home.

Cottage cheese

A half-cup of cottage cheese contains 450 mg of sodium. A cup of low-fat milk contains only 100 mg of sodium and is a better way to get calcium and vitamin D.


You might not expect sodium in your breakfast cereal, but most varieties, including the healthy ones, contain 200 to 300 mg per one-cup serving. Check nutrition labels before you buy, and limit your serving size.

Spaghetti sauce

A half-cup of spaghetti sauce contains 600 mg of sodium, or about 25% of the daily recommended amount. Instead, choose low-sodium varieties or make your own sauce using fresh tomatoes.

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