'Sodium bombs' are sneaky health risk

Do you eat too much salt? Odds are you do.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine in ten Americans consume too much sodium. That can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and suffering a heart attack or stroke

Most of the sodium we consume doesn't come from the salt shaker. The CDC says more than 75 percent comes from restaurant, prepackaged and processed foods.

Some of it is hidden in sneaky "sodium bombs" -- foods that contain more sodium than they would seem. It can start with the first meal of the day.

"Breakfast cereals tend to have a little bit more sodium than you would think," said Cleveland Clinic Dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick. "On average, the most popular breakfast cereals on the market contain anywhere between 200-300 milligrams of sodium for a one cup serving."

So how much is too much? The CDC says that adults over age 51 or anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. The rest of us should aim for less than 2,300 milligrams.

That can be tricky. Even certain dairy products may blow up your best intentions.

"The big culprits with dairy products are going to be cottage cheese or super, super processed cheese like an American cheese," said Kirkpatrick. "Those will have the most sodium between 400-800 milligrams, you know, depending on if you're going to have a cup or so of cottage cheese, which is not difficult to do, you can get almost 900 milligrams of sodium."

The devil's in the details: many processed pasta sauces-- including the ubiquitous tomato-based, veggie-infused kind -- look healthy on the surface, but, in reality, contain high levels of sodium. In particular, you might want to rethink that ladle-full of spaghetti sauce.

"It's actually not really awful for really one serving but most of us are not measuring out a quarter cup or a half a cup of spaghetti sauce on top of our pasta," said Kirkpatrick. "On average, we'll probably have about a cup. So, if we are following that trend then we will consume about 1,000 milligrams of sodium just for our spaghetti sauce."

Some other "sodium bombs" include bread, frozen dinners, vegetable juice, packaged lunch meat and canned vegetables, unless they're labeled "no salt added."

Experts say tracking how much sodium you really consume can be eye-opening and an easy way to discover the "sodium bombs" lurking in your diet.

For advice on reducing your sodium intake, click here.

To learn more about sneaky sources of sodium, click here.

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