As I’ve explained here before, salt isn’t the be-all, end-all of high blood pressure. And trying to cut it out completely isn’t the answer for heart disease. In fact, studies show that low levels of salt can actually contribute to heart disease!
Now, that doesn’t mean you have free reign to douse your home-cooked meals with loads of added table salt or eat all the extra-salty, ultra-processed snacks you want.
There is a tipping point where excess salt from ultra-processed foods can start to overtax your kidneys. Plus, as I regularly report, studies link a diet high in ultra-processed foods with higher risks of chronic diseases and higher all-cause mortality. So, it’s best to just avoid them anyway.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some popular, ultra-processed foods with hidden, excess salt that you should always avoid…
1.) Club soda and other “sparkling” beverages
You may think of club soda as a healthy choice in place of sugary or sugar-free soft drinks. But club soda actually contains baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and table salt (sodium chloride). And just one 12-ounce serving can contains up to 115 mg of sodium!
Even so-called “sparkling water” can contain 12 mg of sodium per serving. And while that amount might not cause a problem if you only drink them occasionally, I don’t recommend you make a regular habit of it.
Instead, enjoy natural spring waters—bottled in glass at their sources. They contain natural amounts of electrolytes and minerals—which supports healthy hydration. Plus, by drinking from a glass container, you avoid potential contamination from plastic bottles and metal cans.
2.) Processed pasta sauce
I always say you should enjoy pasta as a side dish, as they do in Italy and in fine Italian restaurants. But don’t regularly make it the main course.
In addition, beware of processed sauces that contain loads of added salt. For example, just one serving of processed, bottled pesto sauce contains about 590 mg of sodium, and just one cup of processed marinara can contain roughly 1,000 mg!
Instead, I recommend making your own sauce with natural ingredients that don’t contain excess sodium. And make sure you use “tetrapak” boxed, whole tomatoes, or whole tomatoes in glass bottles and jars, which contain ample amounts of heart-healthy lycopene. (Studies show this key nutrient can slash blood pressure in just eight weeks. And it has many other benefits, including protection for your prostate.)
Commercially canned tomatoes often contain trace amounts of Bisphenol A (BPA), which is linked to many chronic conditions, including heart disease. The naturally acidic content of the tomatoes can cause BPA to leach from the can into the contents.
Better yet, plant some tomatoes in your yard and when they’re ripe, pick them right off the vine to make marinara sauce. (And consider giving homemade “canning” a try. It’s a healthy, time-honored tradition in which the whole family can participate! Just be sure to use glass jars.)
You can also add lots of other heart-healthy ingredients to your homemade tomato sauce, such as basil, Bay leaves, black pepper, basil, garlic, onions, oregano, and thyme.
3.) Carryout wraps and sandwiches
You probably know that greasy burgers and French fries at fast-food restaurants are loaded with added salt. But you should also beware of the seemingly “healthier” offerings, such as so-called flat “wraps,” at popular sandwich chains.
These shops put a lot more effort into their marketing gimmicks than their actual product. For example, even a rotisserie-style chicken wrap at popular sandwich shops can contain more than 1,000 mg of salt. And I find that most wraps, sandwiches, and salads sold at these shops are far from “fresh”…and instead taste like plastic and the wraps get slimy!
4.) Rotisserie chicken
Speaking of rotisserie chicken—it can seem like a healthy alternative to fried chicken. However, it’s often injected with salt water, bringing sodium content to 320 mg of sodium in 4 ounces of chicken. Which means, as I regularly report, you’re far better off sticking to meat from organically raised, free-range, grass-fed and -finished poultry.
Stick to wholesome foods to manage your salt
The good news is, as I suggested at the beginning of this Dispatch, you won’t have to worry about tracking your sodium intake if you avoid ultra-processed foods. Instead, thoroughly enjoy all the wholesome, delicious foods in a Mediterranean-type diet, including:
- Full-fat dairy, including butter, eggs, cheeses, and yogurt (Remember, in the Mediterranean, they eat cheese at each and every meal. But health experts typically overlook that point because it doesn’t fit their “anti-fat” narrative.)
- Wild-caught fish and seafood
- Grass-fed and -finished, free-range, organic beef, chicken, and especially lamb, which has the best nutritional profile of all meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Six to eight servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day
- Alcohol in moderation
An easy way to adopt this type of healthy, balanced diet is by following this rule of thumb…
Simply avoid the center aisles at the grocery store. Instead, stay with the whole, unprocessed foods that require refrigeration, located around the perimeter of the store.
In addition, you can learn all about the many safe, effective, natural approaches to protecting your heart—without obsessing about salt—in my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!