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Top 10 Sources of Sodium

More than 40% of the sodium we eat each day comes from only 10 types of food. Many people are surprised to learn which foods are on the list because the foods do not always taste salty.

How does your sandwhich stack up on sodium? Top slice of bread can contain 200mg of sodium. 1 teaspoon of mustard can contain 120mg of sodium. 1 leaf of lettuce can contain 2mg of sodium. 1 slice of cheese can contain 310mg of sodium. 6 thin slices of turkey can contain 690mg of sodium. The bottom slice of bread can contain another 200mg of sodium. All of that adds up to 1,522mg of sodium in an entire sandwich.

Top Sources of Sodium

  • Breads and rolls
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Soups
  • Sandwiches
  • Cheese
  • Pasta dishes*
  • Meat dishes
  • Snacks

*The category for pasta dishes does not include macaroni and cheese, which is a separate category.

Knowing which foods are the biggest contributors to sodium in your diet is an important step in reducing daily sodium to a healthy level. To figure out the amount of sodium in a food, check the Nutrition Facts label, which lists sodium content per serving. Sodium content is listed in milligrams (mg).

Learn more about sources of sodium in your diet [PDF-913K].

Sodium Adds Up Quickly

Below is a sample diet of 3 meals and 3 small snacks, providing a total sodium content of more than 3,200 mg. That’s much higher than the levels recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 [PDF-2.9M].

Sodium adds up quickly in our daily diet. The sample diet includes Breakfast: Egg and cheese sandwich, 760mg of sodium. Orange juice, 1 cup, 5mg of sodium. Coffee, 1 cup, 5mg of sodium. Snack: Banana, medium, 1mg of sodium. Lunch: Vegetable soup and half of a sandwich combo, 1,450mg of sodium. Iced tea, 1 cup unsweetened, 10mg of sodium. Snack: Chips, plain, 140mg of sodium. Dinner: Spaghetti (without added salt) with meat sauce (1.5 cup pasta, 3/4 cup sauce, 3 oz meat), 380mg of sodium. Garden salad with ranch dressing, 340mg of sodium. Water, 1 cup, 10mg of sodium. Snack: 2 chocolate chip cookies, 70mg of sodium. Skim milk, 1 cup, 100mg of sodium. Total mg of sodium in sample diet: 3,271.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25, and current manufacturers’ data. Values greater than 10 mg of sodium were rounded to the nearest 10 mg.

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