5 Reasons Your Healthy Diet May Be Packed With Salt

You might be surprised to find out that your healthy diet is high in sodium, and these five foods are probably to blame.

Do you eat a healthy diet? While you may think that the things you’re eating are good for you, they could well surprise you. In fact, research shows that many of the so-called healthy foods at the store are packed with salt.

Dig into these low-sodium recipes!
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1. You rely on breakfast cereal to start your day

Starting the day with a bowl of cereal has to be healthy, right? Not always (pizza is even healthier than some cereals). While many of us are under the impression that this breakfast option is a safe bet, it could be higher in sodium than you first imagine. Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) reveals that there are shockingly high levels of salt in many major brands of cereal.

During research into various branded and unbranded cereals, the group found that many contained more salt than an individual-size bag of potato chips. Some of the main offenders included Special K, All-Bran and Cornflakes. So, while you’re eating your morning bowl of cereal, you could be consuming more sodium than you know.

2. You opt for gluten-free snacks

A popular choice among dieters is to cut out gluten or, at the very least, stop eating as much, so it’s no wonder that so many gluten-free snacks are on supermarket shelves these days. While these trendy treats may have no gluten in them, they could have a large secret helping of salt. Just last year, The Times reported that some of these alternatives had as much as five times more sodium in them than is found in standard snacks.

3. You’re not careful about your bread

Bread is a staple of many diets, including the highly popular Mediterranean eating plan. So, in theory, eating bread with meals should be good for you, right? Well, not if it’s packed with salt. A 2016 report from CASH found that the levels of salt in an average slice of bread was nearly 300mg.

While that amount is lower than the findings in previous years, it’s still a whole lot of salt and perhaps more than we should be consuming regularly. Given that people tend to eat a lot of bread and use it as a snack throughout the day, this could be affecting their health.

There are healthy breads out there, though. Just be sure to check the label.

4. You’re not paying attention to your favorite movie snack 

There’s a common misconception that popcorn is always a healthy snack. In fact, many people choose it over chips or other salty treats. As innocuous as this may seem, according to CASH, many brands of popcorn are higher in sodium than other snacks. However, making it yourself is still a healthy choice.

“Plain popcorn can still be eaten as part of a healthy diet and provides whole grains, fiber, and antioxidants, so be sure to read the label and opt for healthier versions. Or better yet, make your own from scratch!” says Sonia Pombo, nutritionist for CASH.

5. You’re not making salads yourself

Salads have to be the number one healthy choice for those leading a balanced lifestyle. But if you’re not making the salads yourself, you could find that they are filled with more salt than you can imagine. Psst: Salad dressing can be loaded with sodium, too.

According to a 2014 study, salad meals some fast-food and casual-dining restaurants contained high sodium levels. In many cases, these ready-to-eat options had more salt in them than an individual-size bag of chips. Yikes!

Studies show a strong link between high blood pressure and increased sodium intake, so knowing what foods are secretly high in sodium really can make a difference in your overall health. That doesn’t mean these higher-sodium foods have to be omitted from your diet, but consider eating them less frequently, comparing the amount of sodium between brands and making more of these sneaky foods from scratch so you can control the amount of salt.

Slash your sodium intake with these 10 tiny tricks.

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Charlotte Grainger
Charlotte Grainger is a creative feature writer, with a flair for food, health and lifestyle pieces. Her work has been seen in a number of national publications including Beyond Words Magazine, Reader's Digest and Psychologies. When she’s not typing away, you can find her trying out new recipes or binging Netflix shows— sometimes simultaneously.