I try to buy products that contain little or no fat. But I've noticed that many reduced-fat or fat-free foods, such as salad dressing, chips and pepperoni, seem to have a lot more sodium. Are the fat-free products really better for you if they contain more sodium? Thanks! —D.E., Wichita, Kansas
You're right about the additional sodium. When fat is removed from food items such as condiments and baked goods, other flavorings or preservatives are often added to make up for the loss of flavor and texture in the original product.
These additional ingredients often contain sodium, which raises the total sodium of the product.
Whether you should be most concerned about sodium or fat depends on your dietary needs. If you or a family member have high blood pressure or other medical conditions affected by sodium, then monitoring the sodium level in foods is crucial, as you likely know.
Remember, roughly 10% of dietary sodium is added at the table when you pick up the salt shaker. The other 90% comes from purchased foods or is added during food preparation.
If you are most concerned about maintaining a healthy body weight, reduced-fat products should be your focus. But remember…reduced-fat and fat-free foods still contain plenty of calories. So don't go overboard when consuming them.