Sodium and Processed Foods

Today’s post is a continuation of last week discussion of sodium, potassium, and blood pressure.  So think of this as Part 2 in this series.  If you missed last weeks discussion, you can go read it here.  

Sodium in Processed Foods

According to the CDC, 75% of our sodium intake comes from processed foods.  Sodium is added to processed food for a couple of reasons:  preservation and taste.  One of the oldest ways to preserve food is to use salt to cut back on microbes for better storage, and this is still one of the reasons for the high salt content in processed foods today.  Salt also enhances the flavor of our foods, making things taste better.  Unfortunately, over time salt loses its taste, so salty processed foods don’t taste as salty to us as if we had added the salt ourselves  as we are eating them.  

It’s almost always better and healthier to make foods for yourself at home.  This cuts back on the sodium content of meals substantially and helps lower blood pressure.  If you can’t make food at home try to buy low sodium processed foods.  If you don’t buy these because you don’t think they tasty salty enough to you, try buying them and adding a little extra salt at home…  you’ll usually still be better off than buying the high sodium alternative at the grocery store.

High Sodium Levels in Baby and Toddler Foods 

Even our toddler and baby food can be very high in sodium. In a recent review of baby and toddler food over 70% of these foods had high sodium levels, and some had up to 3 times the recommended amount!  This sets our children up for high blood pressure and heart problems in the future.  We also develop tastes when we are young, so not introducing our children to salty food can help them make wiser choices as they grow older.  Check the labels of your baby and toddler food, anything over 210 mg per serving is considered high sodium.

Hidden Sources of Sodium

When checking processed foods in the store, be extra careful with these. They may contain higher levels than you expect.  

  • Breads (contain baking soda which is a significant form of sodium in our diet)
  • processed / deli meats
  • cheeses
  • canned soups
  • canned beans (look for low sodium options)
  • breakfast cereals
  • sauces and dressings
Reading Food Labels for Sodium Content
When you are looking at food labels, remember to check the serving size, if you are planning on eating 2 servings remember you are getting double the amount of sodium listed!  The American Heart Association considers anything under 35 mg very low sodium, and anything under 140 mg low sodium.  

Lindsay’s Lower Sodium Recipes 

Today, Lindsay has prepared us several low sodium versions of kids and adults favorites. Lindsay has prepared  chicken tenders, baked potato chips and french fries for the kids. They are lower in sodium than those found in the store, and not very hard to make!  Check the chicken at the grocery store, even it can be injected with salt water to make it juicy and enhance the flavor, look for lower sodium options!

Chicken with Quinoa

Lindsay made this with Greek yogurt, grapes, and dill, and you can go to her website for the full recipe.

Quinoa Pic

 NutritionLabel - Quinoa

Baked Potato Chips / Fries

For this recipe I assumed 1/2 a small potatoes worth of fries which is about equivalent to a McDonald’s size small fries.  You can also make your own chips with the same amount of potatoes and olive oil, with the same nutritional info.  Go check out the recipe on Lindsay’s website.

French Fries Pic

Potato Chips Pics

NutritionLabel - FriesChips

 Chicken Strips

Remember to check the chicken in the grocery store and find the lowest in sodium, as it can vary depending on what is injected into the chicken.   I never realized grocery store chicken and turkey were injected with anything until I went gluten-free.  Did you know some turkeys at Thanksgiving are injected with “broth” to make them juicier, and sometimes this broth can include gluten!  This is sure to be a kid favorite, so go find the recipe on Lindsay’s website.   

 Chicken Strips Pic

Breakfast Sandwich

Lindsay makes her husband a homemade breakfast sandwich every morning to keep if from going and buying his own.  On her website she did a comparison of calories and sodium intake to a fast food breakfast sandwich!   So go check out her website for that info and the recipe.  

Breakfast Sandwich Pic

Please Note:  The nutrition information in these recipes are estimates only.  Actual nutrition information will vary depending on exactly how large your chicken strips are, how much oil you use, etc.  Also, please verify all allergen information yourself!!






  1. Those fries and chips look yummy! I definitively need to cut back on my salt, thanks for the helpful article!

  2. Well said. This is just what I advise my patients with heart failure. Excellent job!!!!!

    • Hi Karen, I just saw your comment for some reason! Glad to hear it lines up with what you guys tell your patients!

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  3. You’ve captured this peetfcrly. Thanks for taking the time!

  4. We’ve been reading to the Ginger since he was 6months old. Yes, they’re mainly all about the picturesat the moment, but it’s amazing how he has come to expect to be read to before bed. I love it! I have fond memories of reading with my mom and as a result I still read a lot. Its a very special time to be able to spend with my son after a long working day and I hope to be able to instill the love of reading into him.Lauren recently posted..

  5. Omg my first son was potty trained before 2 yrs old, my daughter wasn’t potty trained until she was 3 , my 2 yr old now? No way I would let him near a toilet , he just thinks they r the FUNNEST things to play in! I feel like he’ll never be potty trained


  1. […] The thing is, you need salt, but we get way too much sodium these days because we are a nation of convenience food. Salt is a preservative, so to make something shelf stable from now until oh say October of 2016, they will need to process it and load it up with preservatives. In this case, salt is the least of your worries, but just because there are a ton of chemicals in something that are worse than salt, doesn’t mean the salt is less bad. If you read this blog at all, you probably know by now, that my goal is to get people to stop eating things that are prepackaged, and actually eat real food. I’m sure when you go shopping, you look at the labels to see how many calories are in something, or how much fat. Do you check the sodium? Do you read the ingredients that are actually IN the food? If you are looking to see what the calories are, I’m assuming it’s because you don’t want it to make you fat right? Because being fat is unhealthy? If you will take the time to check that, why not check out the rest of the label? You’ve already got the box turned around, just look a couple lines down. Here’s another shopping tip…. If there is no label, and it doesn’t have a shelf life of 6 months or more…. You’re on the right track. Then you can control how much salt you are eating, and how salty your food will taste. Stephanie will have more on all the ins and outs of sodium here. […]

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