A Healthier U

By PEAK Health & Fitness


Watch the serving size
Don’t fool yourself by thinking that the sodium content listed on a nutritional label is for the entire package. Before you blow your entire day’s worth of sodium, determine exactly what one serving equals.

Food label claims
• Sodium-free: Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
• Very low-sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
• Low-sodium: Less than 140 mg per serving
• Reduced sodium: Sodium level reduced by 25 percent
• Unsalted, no salt added, or without added salt: Made without the salt that’s normally used, but still contains the sodium that’s a natural part of the food itself.

The obvious offenders
These snack-time favorites are always a safe bet for high salt content. Here’s how a 1-ounce serving compares:
• Potato chips = 149 mg
• Cheese puffs = 258 mg
• Pretzels = 385 mg
Tip: Even “baked” or “fat-free” snacks can pack the same amount of sodium or more, so read the label.

Condiments do count
If you think those little extras you add to your food don’t count, think again:
• Ketchup (1 tablespoon) = 167 mg
• Sweet relish (1 tablespoon) = 122 mg
• Capers (1 tablespoon) = 255 mg
Tip: Go for low-sodium or sodium-free condiments or get creative and try cranberry relish or apple butter for naturally lower sodium choices.

Check your medicine cabinet too
Some headache or heartburn medicines can contain sodium carbonate or bicarbonate. Read the ingredient list or warning label to be sure.

Avoid a fast-food fiasco
• Undress your food: Skip the cheese, go easy on the condiments and don’t add salt.
• Don’t supersize: Order off the children’s menu for smaller portions.
• Eat a very low-sodium diet for the rest of the day.
• Ask for a nutrition fact sheet at the restaurant (or find it online before you go) to help you make the best possible low sodium choices.

Do’s when dining out
• Ask how food is prepared.
• Choose a restaurant where food is made to order and keep your order simple.
• Ask that your meal be prepared without any forms of sodium and then add a dash of low-sodium seasoning you brought from home or a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Pitfalls when eating out
Restaurant soups are generally very high in sodium, as a appetizers with cheeses or meats. Casserole entrees and rice pilaf are common pitfalls. The word “sauce” at a restaurant is sometimes synonymous with sodium, so you may want to steer clear of entrees slathered in sauce. If you ask, most restaurants are willing to prepare your food without added salt, but that won’t necessarily make it low in sodium.


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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.