25 Surprisingly Salty Processed Foods
Go easy on the salt
The average person in the U.S. consumes 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day. That’s equivalent to almost 9 grams of salt, or nearly 2 teaspoonfuls—way more than the 2,300 milligrams per day suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
But the majority of excess salt, or 77%, isn’t spooned into your food—it comes from processed foods.
The FDA recently announced a plan to gradually scale back on salt in processed foods, which may be the end of the line for super salty products.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for excess sodium and adjust your intake accordingly. Check out these 25 hidden salt traps you can find lurking in the grocery store.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
Serving: 1 cup cereal (190 calories)
Though this cereal contains only 15% of your daily sodium recommendation, it has more than double the sodium of some other cereals. Cheerios contains 190 milligrams, GoLean has 85 milligrams, and Special K Protein Plus contains 147 milligrams per one-cup serving.
Classico Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
Serving: 125 grams (about 1/2 cup)
One serving of this sauce contains more than 20% of your salt intake for the day. Instead, opt for more classic varieties—Classico’s Tomato & Basil has 310 milligrams—or even
Slim Jim Original Beef Jerky
Serving: 1 ounce (80 calories)
OK, it’s probably no surprise that a Slim Jim’s salty taste is due to a dose of sodium.
However, if you nibble this snack—only 80 calories—you get 20% of your daily sodium for the day, more than double the amount of sodium in a serving of potato chips.
Kellogg’s Eggo Buttermilk Pancakes
Serving: 3 pancakes (280 calories)
Eat these pancakes for breakfast, and you’ve consumed 25% of your sodium for the day.
And if you add in 1/4 cup Kellogg’s Buttery syrup, you add in 90 more milligrams, for a total of 670 milligrams—one-third of your daily sodium. Swap them for two Eggo waffles and you save 160 milligrams.
MorningStar Farms Chipotle Black Bean Burger
Serving: 1 burger (210 calories)
Usually veggie and black bean burgers are healthier alternatives to beef burgers. Even though these black bean burgers are only 210 calories, they contain nearly one-third of your daily sodium intake.
A President’s Choice Backyard Burger contains 480 milligrams of sodium, and Amy’s Organics makes a low-sodium veggie burger with only 250 milligrams.
Serving: 1 tbsp (15 calories)
If you love ketchup on everything from eggs to burgers, be aware that the condiment’s sodium content is not negligible.
Two tablespoons of this ketchup has approximately the same amount of sodium as 2 ounces of salted peanuts or potato chips—roughly 16% of your sodium daily intake.
Serving: 1 slice (60 calories)
Whip up a grilled cheese sandwich with two Kraft singles and two slices of white bread (Arnold Country White Bread contains 150 milligrams per slice), and you'll consume 700 milligrams of sodium.
Pepperidge Farm Pumpernickel Bread
Serving: 1 slice (80 calories)
Even if you don’t add any meat, cheese, or condiments, two slices of this pumpernickel bread will cost you 380 milligrams of sodium, or 15% of your daily total.
V8 Spicy Hot Vegetable Juice
Serving: 8 ounces (50 calories)
One serving of this juice has more than 100% of your daily vitamin C, and 20% of your daily sodium. Opt for the low-sodium version to get one-third the amount of salt.
Green Giant Canned Mushrooms
Serving: 1/2 cup (25 calories)
Vegetables are supposed to be your friends, but with 440 milligrams of sodium per serving, it is best to rethink these canned veggies. Instead, choose fresh or frozen, which contain 30 milligrams or less per serving.
Perdue Short Cuts Carved Chicken Breast, Southwestern Style Cooked Chicken Strips
Serving: 1/2 cup (about a third of the box); 90 calories
Four ounces of uncooked chicken breast contains 45 milligrams of sodium, so if you’re craving Southwestern-style chicken, it’s better to
make your own than to eat this precooked variety.
Lender’s Whole Grain Plain Bagel
Serving: 1 bagel (240 calories)
This bagel has the same amount of sodium as a serving of Slim Jims, but somehow you don’t expect a bagel to run neck and neck with a salty-tasting snack.
And if you add a smear of cream cheese (between 100 to 200 milligrams of sodium per ounce), you’ll have a breakfast that’s nearly one-third of your daily salt intake.
Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Italian Salad Dressing
Serving: 2 tbsp (50 calories)
Fresh veggies—like spinach, tomatoes, and carrots—are typically low in sodium. Don’t ruin your salad by using dressings that are heavy on the salt.
Choose low-sodium varieties, oil and vinegar, or balsamic vinaigrettes to cut down on the sodium.
DiGiorno for One Pepperoni Thin Crispy Crust
Serving: 1 pizza (590 calories)
You know that pizza isn’t always diet-friendly, but even this portion-controlled pizza contains half of your daily sodium for the day. You can
make your own for nearly half the salt.
Rice-a-Roni Spanish Rice
Serving: 1 cup prepared (260 calories)
Most people don’t equate rice with a salty treat, but this side dish contains more than 50% of your daily amount of sodium. The brand does sell low-sodium varieties, but they still have 650 to 670 milligrams of sodium per cup of cooked rice.
Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil’s Food Cake
Serving: 1/12 cake (290 calories)
Think sweets come salt-free? No way! One slice of this cake equals 15% of your daily intake, and dark chocolate frosting adds another 120 milligrams.
Bertolli Mediterranean Style Shrimp and Penne Primavera
Serving: 1/2 of 24-oz. package (320 calories)
With 320 calories, 15 grams of fat (1.5 saturated), and 5 grams of fiber, this frozen meal looks like a winner. However, with more than one-third of your daily intake of sodium, you might want to leave this pasta in the freezer.
Campbell’s Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup
Serving: 1/2 cup (70 calories)
It’s no surprise that soup is on this list. However, even among products known for their high sodium content, this one packs a punch.
One cup of this soup would supply you with 80% of your daily intake of sodium.
Friendship 1% Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
Serving: 1/2 cup (90 calories)
Cottage cheese? Really? Yep, although it’s low-cal and protein-packed, a serving also dishes up 15% of your daily salt intake.
While dieters have long turned to cottage cheese as a filling snack, if you’re concerned about sodium, you’re better off with Greek yogurt, which contains less than 100 milligrams for the same serving size.
Otis Spunkmeyer Harvest Bran Muffin
Serving: 1 muffin (400 calories)
Muffins seem harmless, but this healthy-sounding breakfast contains more than 20% of your sodium for the day.
Lean Cuisine Baja-Style Chicken Quesadilla
Serving: 1 meal (280 calories)
Frozen meals are often full of sodium. However, this dish could be a salt trap—although it’s only 280 calories, it also delivers almost 30% of your daily sodium intake. If you want to eat one, be sure to pair it with a side dish that’s low-sodium, either a salad or steamed veggies.
Birds Eye Asian Vegetables in Sesame Ginger Sauce
Serving: 1 cup (60 calories)
Any smart shopper knows to bypass the frozen vegetables with cheese sauce, but this label is deceptive.
The product may contain only 60 calories per serving, but it packs in more than 25% of your daily sodium. Opt to make your own stir-fry using low-sodium soy sauce instead.
Vlasic Kosher Dill Whole Pickles
Serving: 1 pickle (20 calories)
This label is especially deceiving. It says a serving only contains 220 milligrams of sodium, but the serving size is one-fourth of a pickle. Who eats one-quarter of a pickle?
So we provided the amount of sodium in an entire pickle. If you eat the whole thing—like most people do—you’ve consumed more than one-third of your daily sodium.
Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup, Roast Chicken Flavor
Serving: 1/2 package (190 calories)
Eat the entire package of this sodium-packed snack—which is easy to do—and you’ll have consumed nearly two-thirds of your daily sodium intake for the day.
Lunchables Ham and Swiss With Crackers
Serving: 1 Lunchable (340 calories)
This lunch seems like a good thing to pack in a child’s lunchbox, but leave this one on the shelf.
It has nearly half the recommended sodium for an adult, and about 60% of the Institute of Medicine's recommended daily intake for children ages 4 to 8. You’re better off with a ham and cheese sandwich, baked chips, and fruit.