February 8, 2012

Answering CDC’s Sodium Call

Yesterday, the CDC (and NPR) released one of the most comprehensive reports on the origins of America’s high sodium intake.

Turns out it can be boiled down to ten popular foods.

What comes as a surprise to most is that sodium doesn’t just exist in that shaker. Or that bottle of soy sauce. Or on top of French fries. But that high sodium counts can be found in soups, cheeses, and pizza and even more surprisingly, in less obvious culprits like bread, milk, and that seemingly healthy whole wheat sandwich with oven-roasted deli meat.

That “healthy choice” lunch alone, even without mayo, can cost you upwards of 800mg of sodium.

Surprise is right.

Ok, so what do we take away from all of us?

Beyond a lesson in where sodium lies, it is more importantly a lesson on making more informed eating choices.

Everything from chips, to chicken, and even balsamic vinegar can vary in sodium depending on the brand and how it has been processed. So while you can memorize numbers and lists, the best thing to do is be conscious of the products, produce, and proteins you buy in order to make the lowest sodium choices possible.

And if something doesn’t exist in the stores–low-sodium cheddar cheese for example–get on the interweb. You never know what you’ll find. And if you find something you like, take it back to your grocer to see if they’ll carry it.

Be proactive and be full.

In the meantime, find my favorite low-sodium versions of the CDC’s high sodium culprits, to help those, ready to make a switch, do so with ease and flavor.

Chow on.



make your own

buy no-salt added bread for sandwiches and bread-based recipes

use matzoh for crackers for breadcrumbs and even pie crust


skip the sausage and make your own

buy no-salt added turkey meat or roast beef


buy no-salt added, ready-to-eat pizza packages

make your own crust and sauce


be sure to only buy poultry that is air-chilled, which means it isn’t plumped with salt solutions

when dining out, always ask if the poultry has been brined: If yes, avoid. If no, enjoy.

make anything at home from hot wings to chicken salad


leave the cans on the shelves and make low-sodium microwavable soups of your own

 at home, an immersion blender plus boiled veggies a great soup make

anything is possible, even chicken tortilla soup and fake lobster chowder


switch out the mayo for no-salt added mustards or home-made hummus

or use mayo substitutions

instead of bread, try thick rice crackers

or skip the bread and use corn tortillas or collard greens to make a hearty wrap


some ricotta has only 24mg sodium per 1/4 cup

low-sodium cheddar, swiss, no-salt added cottage cheese, and even paneer all exist


noodles aren’t the culprit, salted water, salty sauces, and salty meats are

use no-salt added canned tomato for a quick pasta fix at home

or make your own salt-free meat, white wine, or veggie sauces of your own

even macaroni and “cheese” is possible, with some creativity


skip the cans and mix together your own Char Sui marinades and steak sauces

make your own burger patties full of herbs and spices, not salt

leave the salt shaker aside and let the natural saltiness of the meat shine with long roasts and braises


look for no-salt added corn and potato chips

get squirrel-y and eat dried fruits and nuts

or get creative with jicama fries, salt-free pickles, pretzels, and minute mochi muffins

Cupcake February 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Wow, what a cornucopia of no-so foods to create! thanks, SG.

Steve February 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Appreciate the tips. Already do most of these things but I’ll have to use ricotta & look for air-chilled poultry.

I find that I’m much much less averse to applying elbow grease to avoid sodium. It’s frustrating to pay more for less, especially when it would take fewer resources to just leave out salt. I suppose the demand is so low for these items that they’re just not cost-effective.

The thing is, it was only a couple of years ago that I even learned it was possible to buy many food staples without salt. Maybe I’m wrong but I suspect demand would increase if people knew these products were an option. So keep up the good work.

marie March 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I can’t find no salt corn chips anywhere in my town – is there a simple way to make my own?

jessg23 March 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

You can always order chips online (like these: http://www.amazon.com/Guiltless-Gourmet-Organic-Tortilla-7-Ounce/dp/B000GZW58E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332259345&sr=8-1 OR http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Eatin-Tortilla-Chips-8-1-Ounce/dp/B000EQT9MK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1332259379&sr=8-2)

Or, you can make them by using low-sodium (5-10mg) tortillas. Cut them into chip shapes and then bake until crispy. If you make your own chips this way, you can also add a little oil and spice to them (like a pinch of cayenne or salt-free mixes). It’s a great way to make low-sodium chips and make them according to your own taste buds!

Lissa July 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Hi sodium girl you are truly amazing!! I am on a low sodium way of life also due to medical issues. I am also became a vegetarian 30 years ago due to another medical problem. I love to cook and flavor a lot with herbs and spices. Three things I cannot figure out and miss. Soy sauce saurkraut and full sour pickles. Any ideas. Keep up the inspiration for all of us!! Thanks. Lissa

jessg23 July 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

Hi Lissa! Here are links to recipes for all three ingredients you’re looking for.
SOY SAUCE: http://www.sodiumgirl.com/low-sodium-sushi/
SAURKRAUT: http://toastiterecipes.com/2012/02/24/low-sodium-reuben-sandwiches-love-your-heart-recipe-rally
SOUR PICKLES: http://www.sodiumgirl.com/hello-world-2/
If you are looking for a premade soy replacement (and can handle a bit more sodiumg), there are also a few lower sodium soy products on the market. Whole Foods Markets even carry a Coconut Amino Soy-Free “soy sauce” with around 130mg sodium per serving.

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