Health & Fitness Tips

The Surprising Truth About Salt

8 Foods

Sodium (a component of salt) is not bad in itself. You do need to consume some for nerve and muscle functioning, but too much can harm your heart. Salt makes you retain water - and that extra fluid can boost your blood pressure, driving up your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Identify sneaky sources
Keeping an eye on how much salt you sprinkle on your food is a good start (salt is about 40% sodium). However, a whopping 77% of sodium comes from packaged foods—and the number-one sodium source is bread. Even though bread only racks up about 150 mg a slice, People eat so much that it adds up quickly. Other top offenders include canned soups, frozen dinners and deli meats. Sodium also hangs out in seemingly healthy items like sports drinks and cheese.

Protect yourself
Since you can't always see (or taste) the sodium in processed foods, reading labels is a must. Make sure that foods contain no more than 500 mg per serving and compare brands to look for low or no-sodium versions of canned vegetables, beans and cheese. Buying fresh produce can help: The less processed a food is, the less likely it is to be swimming in sodium.

Surprising Fact
Too much sodium may also weaken your bones. A recent study found that postmenopausal women who had the most sodium in their diets were four times as likely to experience bone fractures as those who ate the least.