Sneaky salt

Salty ways
to ruin your
diet plan

If your New Year's resolution was to get healthy, you're probably looking to overhaul your diet. While foods high in fat and calories are obvious things to avoid, you may be eating "diet" foods that are sneaking in unhealthy amounts of salt.

Most Americans are consuming nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium over the recommended daily amount. Not surprisingly, overly processed food is the main culprit; however, even foods that seem like healthy options can be sabotaging your get-healthy efforts. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Most of the salt in your diet comes from foods that might not even taste salty, such as breads, meats and dairy products.”

cottage cheeseCottage cheese

While highly processed cheese slices are a known salty snack, cottage cheese has been recommended for dieters as a high-protein, low-calorie option. Unfortunately, one serving of this favorite of many dieters can contain up to 15 percent of your daily sodium.

Frozen "diet" meals

There are many healthy meal options in the freezer section of the store. It's obvious you should avoid the pizza rolls if you are watching your waistline, but foods marketed as "diet-friendly" (low-calorie and portion-controlled) can fool you. Even though they are low-calorie, the sodium in one meal is commonly 20 to 30 percent of your daily intake. If you're eating three of these a day, plus two prepackaged snacks, you could easily exceed the daily recommendations.

"Light" breakfast sandwich

If you're watching your weight, a convenient and healthy breakfast may include a low-fat, low-calorie frozen egg and turkey sausage sandwich on a whole-wheat bagel. But, if you check the nutrition information, you might be shocked to see this sandwich contains nearly 30 percent of your daily sodium. Do your diet a favor and avoid the frozen breakfast sandwich.

GatoradeSports drinks

If exercise is part of your get-healthy plan, watch out for flavored sports drinks. Often touted as good for exercise recovery, these drinks can sneak in more salt than needed. While strenuous exercise may warrant salt replacement, often it is unnecessary. Make sure you talk to your trainer or physician about your specific needs.

Salty side: Be sure to check the sodium levels in items marked "less sodium" or "light sodium." They may still contain excessive levels of salt.

Enhanced frozen chicken

Chicken breast is a great, lean protein. However, what might surprise you is that many bags of frozen chicken (even if they're labeled "all natural") are injected with a salt-water solution that dramatically increases the amount of sodium in the meat (500 percent increase from its natural state). This enhancement may mean a juicier meal, but the added salt may not be worth it.

What's the solution?

Your best bet for ensuring a successful diet according to Christina Servetas, registered dietician, is to “eat whole foods, cook for yourself and remove the salt shaker from your table.”

More diet tips

Tips to reduce your sodium intake and still keep foods flavorful
Diet changes that can save your life
How to lower your salt intake


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