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Six Surprising Places Excess Salt is Hiding

According to U.S. Dietary Guidelines, a healthy adult’s sodium intake should be between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams. Yet the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion reports that Americans aged two (two!) and older typically consume about 3,400 mg per day. So where is all this excess salt coming from? Here are six surprising places sodium might be hiding:

1. Bread + Grain Products. While processed grains aren’t the most dramatic offender by any means, Americans eat a LOT of them—and the excess salt adds up. A slice of whole-grain bread can have as much as 400 mg of sodium per slice, and most people eat two at a time. You should also make sure you double-check the label of your breakfast cereal; even seemingly healthy choices like instant oatmeal can have up to 260 mg of sodium per serving, not to mention lots of added sugar.

2. Chicken. One of the best ways to control sodium in your meals is to cook them yourself, including any breaded coatings and sauces. But buyer beware: even the “all-natural” or “organically raised” raw or frozen chicken in your supermarket may have been injected with salt water to improve taste and texture—up to 400 mg worth per serving! Luckily, this practice is subject to the same regulations as any other food additive, so any added sodium should be listed on the label.

3. Soups. Though many broth-based soups are low in fat, they’re not always a “healthy choice”, thanks to their high sodium content. Canned soups can have over 600 mg per serving, and restaurant soups can have more than 2,000 mg—more than an entire day’s recommended intake, in one serving. It’s best to choose low-sodium canned soup, and if you’re heading to a restaurant, check their website for nutrition information prior to your visit.

4. Processed Meats. Many of us can’t imagine life without deli meats—they’re a critical component of the quick and easy American lunch. Unfortunately, most of what we’re tasting on our sandwiches is salt. A two-ounce serving (about six thin slices) contains half of your daily sodium intake… so it’s easy to see how off-the-charts you’ll be with a pastrami on rye from your local deli. Many lunch meat companies are wising up, though, so be on the lookout for reduced-sodium options.

5. “Lean” Frozen Dinners. More proof that “low-fat” doesn’t equal “healthy”: Some of the most popular frozen meals touting themselves as part of a healthy lifestyle are actually very high in sodium. So, while they may be lower in calories and saturated fats than other pre-packaged options, you may find yourself consuming up to 700 mg of sodium. Jenny’s Cuisine® meals and snacks adhere to U.S. Dietary Guidelines, so following your Jenny plan will keep you within healthy limits.

6. Movie Popcorn. You might not be shocked to find movie popcorn on this list. After all, isn’t its super-saltiness one of the reasons we crave it? But here’s something you might find surprising: in addition to its high calories and massive amounts of saturated fat, a typical large movie popcorn has about 1,500 mg of sodium (a whole day’s worth of salt). If it isn’t a movie without popcorn (we get it!), grab a bag of Jenny’s popcorn and tuck it into your purse—along with a large bottle of water.