Shaking Out The Sodium

Americans eat too much salt, and most of it comes from restaurants and processed foods.

Some companies are lowering the sodium in popular products like ketchup, but Consumer Reports says if you really want to cut back, you need to be a salt savvy shopper. Here's how.

Even a careful shopper might not worry about sodium here-in this box of Jell-O Chocolate pudding.

But a look at the label shows a surprising 310 milligrams per serving.

And the Celeste Pizza for One packs in a pile of sodium, with 1230 milligrams. Most adults shouldn't have much more than that in a whole day.

Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports says, "If we get too much, we run the risk of increasing our blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease, or causing problems in terms of kidney stones or osteoporosis."

Consumer Reports Linda Greene went shopping for lower-sodium alternatives.

Greene says, "Instead of these tortillas, which contain 630 milligrams each, we found these from Tumaro that just contain 160-that's a big difference."

This rice pilaf contains 970 milligrams of sodium in a single serving. Compare that to Near East's Whole Grain Wheat Couscous Original Plain. It doesn't have any!

And in place of that Instant Jell-O with 310 milligrams of sodium, Linda found a look-a-like package-Jell-O's Cook and Serve. It has just 110 milligrams of sodium.

She says it pays to read the nutrition facts, but be cautious about other labels.

Greene says, "Keep in mind that healthy-sounding labels aren't always low in sodium."

This vegetable juice calls itself "heart healthy." But it's actually got a hefty 420 milligrams of sodium in just one cup.

Here's another tip from Consumer Reports: Rinse canned foods, like tuna, in water to help remove excess sodium.

If you're eating out, ask the waiter to have your food prepared without added salt, and to bring dressings or sauces on the side-because that's where hidden sodium can lurk.

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