Label Reading 101
10 Tips for Dodging the Sodium in the Supermarket

aisle in a grocery store

According to the Mayo Clinic, lowering your sodium intake can also help to lower your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults limit their sodium intake to 2300 mg. per day; while African Americans, middle-aged people and people with high blood pressure should trim their sodium intake to 1500 mg. per day.

Says Candy Harrington, author or Eating Well on the Road; A Travel Writer’s Strategy for Weight Loss, Healthy Living and Lifestyle Changes, “Cutting down on salt is an obvious way to lower your sodium intake, but there’s also a lot of hidden sodium out there. They key to really cutting back on the sodium begins with some careful label reading at the supermarket.”

With that in mind, Candy offers these sodium-reducing tips for your next shopping trip.

  • Pay close attention to serving sizes on labels, as one item may contain several servings. Additionally, since there are no labeling regulations regarding serving sizes, it’s not unusual for manufacturers to make products appear to be healthier choices by simply increasing the number of servings per item. Always do the math.
  • Buy fresh vegetables whenever possible, as they don’t have any sodium added. If fresh vegetable aren’t available, then opt for frozen vegetables without any added sauces or seasonings. Avoid most canned vegetables, as they usually have a lot salt added during the canning process.
  • Buy dry beans instead of canned beans, as most canned varieties are filled with salt, while dry beans have no sodium. Dried beans are also more economical.
  • Be careful with low-calorie frozen entrees, because when they take out the fat they usually add a lot of salt to improve the flavor. There are some low-sodium choices out there, but you really have to scrutinize the labels.
  • Lose the salt and season with herbs instead. Buy fresh herbs or grow your own for the best flavor.
  • Steer clear of salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride, as it can exacerbate kidney problems and interact with some heart and liver medications. Sodium-free salt substitutes contain 100% potassium chloride, while lite salts replace up to half of the sodium chloride (salt) with potassium chloride.
  • A lot of bread is very high in sodium, as extra salt has been added. Look for Sara Lee 45 Calories and Delightful Wheat Bread. The name says it all, as it has just 45 calories and 80 mg. of sodium per slice. It’s also pretty tasty.
  • Choose corn tortillas over flour tortillas, as the latter are high in sodium, while the former has none.
  • Be careful in the deli case as most lunch meats are sky high in sodium. Look for low sodium brands and limit your portions.
  • Skip the salad dressing aisle. Although reduced-sodium varieties contain less sodium then the original varieties they are still pretty high. You can whip up a low-sodium salad dressing ( at home for a fraction of the cost.

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