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Learn 4 steps to make good choices with processed foods

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Learn 4 steps to make good choices with processed foods

Even if you are trying to reduce sodium by cooking healthier and avoiding the salt shaker, you could be missing most of the sodium you eat.

That’s because about three-quarters of the sodium in American’s diets comes from restaurant, highly processed, and prepackaged foods. This means that while watching your table salt is wise, it may not be contributing as much to the total amount of sodium you eat as you’d expect.


With so much salt in our food, it’s not hard to believe that the average American gets more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – more than double what the AHA recommends for our daily sodium intake.

In an ideal world we’d all handpick fresh ingredients and cook them at home to ensure a limited sodium intake. In the real world, however, we don’t always have time to cook – and, sometimes we want to take shortcuts when we are cooking at home. And who doesn’t enjoy eating at a restaurant from time to time?

So, what can you do about it?

First, visit our action center and take action to help us reduce sodium in the food supply. We are building a movement to help change the sodium landscape. Part of that work is urging the food industry and policymakers to reduce sodium in the food supply so that we can have lower sodium options on our grocery shelves and on restaurant menus.

Then, follow these four simple steps:

  1. Know about the Salty Six and the Salty Six for Kids. These are the six foods that contribute the most sodium to the American diet. Once you know these foods, you can work to choose foods within the category that has the lesser amount of sodium.
  2. Look for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark to find foods that can be part a heart-healthy diet. This red and white icon on the package means the food meets specific nutrition requirements for the Heart-Check Food Certification Program. The American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark—whether in the grocery store or restaurant--helps shoppers quickly and reliably find foods that can help you build a heart-healthy diet.
  3. When you are shopping for food, check out the Nutrition Facts Label on food packages. It lists how much sodium is in each serving. This way, you can compare food labels and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium.
  4. When dining out, choose restaurants where food is cooked to order. Ask your server about the sodium content of menu items. When it comes to ordering, specify that you want your dish to be prepared without salt. When your food arrives, be sure to taste it first. Before you add salt, add flavors like pepper and lemon to boost flavor.

Find out even more ways to reduce sodium!

What do you do to make good choices when it comes to processed foods?