Harmful amounts of sodium can be found in foods that don't taste salty - such as breakfast cereal and bagels, according to Consumer Reports magazine.
In the magazine's analysis of 37 food products found one cup (250 ml) of Kellogg's Raisin Bran contains 350 milligrams of sodium, one-half cup (125 ml) of one brand of low-fat cottage cheese had 360 mg, and a "healthy" Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain White Bagel carried 440 mg of this harmful metallic element.
The current recommendation for healthy adults advises no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. If you have high blood pressure, you should aim for less than 1,500 mg.
In 2007, Health Canada reported that more than 85% of men and 60% of women surpassed the daily limit consuming an average of 3,092 mg of sodium a day.
Lower-fat products were found to be higher in sodium than their full-fat counterparts.
When fat is taken out of foods, sodium is sometimes used to compensate for flavor, says the associate health editor at Consumer Reports.
For example, Prego "Heart Smart Traditional" Italian Sauce contains 430 mg of salt in a half-cup serving, even if it is low in fat.
Even "Heart Healthy" V8 vegetable juice has 480 mg in a serving.
The vast majority (77%) of the sodium we consume is hidden in processed foods or restaurant foods. Only 11% of the sodium we consume comes from table salt (sodium chloride).
To reduce your sodium intake, check ingredient lists for disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, sodium caseinate, sodium benzoate, sodium bicarbonate and sodium nitrite.
Choose potassium-rich vegetables and fruit as an alternative to foods containing these forms of hidden sodium.
For information and recipes using foods that are truly good for your heart, check out Leslie Beck's Heart Healthy Foods for Life (Penguin 2008).
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.