10 Best High-Sodium Foods To Include In Your Daily Diet

These foods offer some health benefits, but remember that moderation is key.

Medically Reviewed by Madhu Sharma, RD
By Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health

It is important to note the foods high in sodium. Sodium is an essential mineral that is involved in many bodily functions. It balances the water levels in your cells along with electrolyte (potassium, calcium, and magnesium) levels. Sodium affects muscle contractions and improves your heart’s health by regulating blood volume and pressure (1). Maintaining sodium balance is important since too much of it can be harmful (2). This article discusses the importance of sodium, the recommended intake, dietary sources, and what to avoid. Keep reading.

What Is Sodium? Why Is It Essential?

First things first.

Sodium is essential. Healthcare marketing companies (some of them, we mean) have shunned sodium and tarnished its image. But guess what? Just like other minerals, sodium is also one. It is classified as an electrolyte as it carries an electric charge (3).

And it is essential. It works with other electrolyte minerals like potassium and calcium and magnesium to balance the water levels in your cells. It even stimulates your nerve impulses and plays a role in muscle contractions (2).

It regulates blood volume and blood pressure, thereby enhancing the health of your heart (1), (4). We mean, hey, sodium is important.

And oh, by the way, what are the foods high in sodium?

What Are The Foods High In Sodium?

Here is the list of foods high in sodium:

  • Table salt
  • Salami
  • Pickles
  • Soy sauce
  • Processed cheese
  • Ham
  • Beef jerky
  • Celery
  • Olives
  • Swiss chard

1. Table Salt

Serving size – 292 grams

Sodium – 1,13,174 milligrams

Daily value – 4716%

As the values show, table salt is excessively high in sodium (5). You can add a pinch of it in your dishes for taste.

But if you are perfectly healthy, don’t avoid table salt totally. As we say, sodium is important for health.

How To Include In Your Diet

Add a pinch of it to your dishes.

2. Salami

Shutterstock

Serving size – 113 grams

Sodium – 2,550 milligrams

Daily value – 106%

This is the amount of sodium one package (or 4 oz) of dry or hard pork salami contains (6). Salami also contains decent amounts of iron and vitamin B12 – which protect the immune system and are essential for brain health (7), (8), (9).

How To Include In Your Diet

You can use it in your breakfast sandwich.

3. Pickles

Serving size – 143 grams

Sodium – 1,251 milligrams

Daily value – 52% 

Since pickles are made through the process of fermentation, they contain a good amount of probiotics. These probiotics can improve gut health (10). And if they are fruit or vegetable pickles, you also have an added antioxidant advantage (11).

How To Include In Your Diet

Layering pickle slices on a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast can be a good start to your day.

4. Soy Sauce

Serving size – 18 grams

Sodium – 1,006 milligrams

Daily value – 42% 

A 2005 study found that soy sauce has anti-allergenic properties. The sauce holds great promise in treating allergies, although more research is needed (12).

The sauce is also rich in isoflavones, which are natural antioxidants (13).

How To Include In Your Diet

You can use soy sauce as a seasoning while sautéing vegetables.

5. Processed Cheese

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Serving size – 232 grams

Sodium – 745 milligrams

Daily value – 31%

Just like most meat foods, ham also contains a healthy amount of protein and zinc, a mineral important for your immune system (14), (15).

How To Include In Your Diet

You can instead go for cheese options that would have undergone less processing. Some of the healthier alternatives include ricotta or cottage cheese.

Simply add cheese to your breakfast toast. Or add the slices to a salad.

6. Ham

Serving size – 56 grams

Sodium – 730 milligrams

Daily value – 30% 

Just like most meat foods, ham also contains a healthy amount of protein and iron. It also contains decent levels of zinc, a mineral important for your immune system. 

How To Include In Your Diet

Opting for lean ham can be a better option. You can use this ham to make a protein-rich sandwich. Or even chop it into pieces and add to your breakfast omelet.

7. Beef Jerky

Serving size – 20 grams

Sodium – 443 milligrams

Daily value – 18% 

It is often called healthy junk food. It is high in protein. The best part about beef jerky is it doesn’t raise your insulin levels, thanks to its high fat and low carbohydrate content (16). But better check for chemical-free brands as certain others are loaded with preservatives and aren’t worth your money.

How To Include In Your Diet

Simply grate beef jerky over a fresh salad.

8. Celery

Serving size – 110 grams

Sodium – 88 milligrams

Daily value – 4% 

This probably is the healthiest in the list. The vegetable is a commendable source of antioxidants and other beneficial enzymes (17). It also contains vitamins C and K and potent minerals like potassium and folate (18).

How To Include In Your Diet

Celery is mostly water, so raw celery works fine. You can also add it to your everyday salad.

9. Olives

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Serving size – 8 grams

Sodium – 72 milligrams

Daily value – 3% 

Olives are replete with antioxidants, whose importance we cannot talk about enough. There are other compounds in olives that lower bad cholesterol (due to MUFA content) and even prevent bone ailments (19), (20).

How To Include In Your Diet

You can add olives to your breakfast omelet.

10. Swiss Chard

Serving size – 36 grams

Sodium – 77 milligrams

Daily value – 3% 

Another vegetable in the list. And it is super-rich in vitamin K – required for strong bones (21), (22). It also contains good amounts of vitamin A that is important for skin and vision health (23).

How To Include In Your Diet

Add the veggie to your salad.

Well, you saw the foods high in sodium. But wait – do you think you are getting enough sodium?

Are You Getting Enough Sodium?

Woman with headache may have low sodium levels

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We lose a little sodium every day through sweat. But our diet makes up for it. In case your sodium levels are excessively low, you might experience the following symptoms (24):

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritability
  • Weakness and fatigue

How do you ensure you are getting enough sodium? By sticking to the RDA of sodium.

What Is The Recommended Daily Allowance Of Sodium?

It is 2300 milligrams or less. Which is equal to just about one teaspoon of salt. That’s it. And it is almost impossible to not get that much sodium in a day.

Certain groups of people, especially those with heart disease/high blood pressure, need to reduce their sodium intake to 1500 milligrams or less a day (1).

Sodium is important. But in no way are we advocating a high sodium intake. We assume you already are having enough sodium in your diet (like most people).

Hence, it is important that you looked at the other end of the spectrum.

How To Lower Your Sodium Intake?

Following are some of the ways you can reduce your sodium intake:

  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over processed foods as an evening snack.
  • Use fresh meat instead of the packaged ones.
  • Select seasonings or spices that do not list sodium as one of their ingredients.
  • Compare the labels of various brands of the same food, and pick the one with the least levels of sodium.
  • Do your research before dining out. Visit the restaurant’s website and check the amount of sodium in each dish (if the info is available). You can then order the one with the least sodium once you go to the restaurant.

And also, avoid foods high in sodium. What are they?

What Are The High-Sodium Foods To Avoid?

Spread of sodium-rich foods to avoid

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Following is the list of some of the most common high-sodium foods that you can avoid to keep a check on your sodium levels:

  • Smoked or cured or canned meat, fish, or cold cuts
  • Salted nuts
  • Canned beans with added salt
  • Frozen breaded meats and dinners like pizza and burritos
  • Buttermilk
  • Processed cheese and sauces
  • Breads and rolls with salted tops
  • Salted crackers
  • Prepackaged and processed mixes of potatoes, pasta, rice, and stuffing
  • Vegetables made with ham, bacon, or even salted pork
  • Commercially prepared pasta and salsa and tomato sauce
  • Regular canned soup
  • Cup of noodles and seasoned ramen mixes
  • Seasoning salt and other sauces and marinades
  • Margarine or salted butter
  • Instant pudding or cake
  • Ketchup
  • Bottled salad dressings

We ask you to avoid all of these because excess sodium can cause serious problems. Yes, sodium is vital. But never in excess.

The dangers of excess sodium include:

  • Elevated blood pressure. The excess sodium holds excess fluid in the body, and this puts a burden on the heart. This eventually leads to heart attacks (25).
  • As per research, Higher intake of sodium can also cause stomach/gastric cancer (26).
  • Osteoporosis is another disease caused by excess sodium intake. The amount of calcium your body loses through urination increases with the amount of sodium you consume (27).

Which Foods Contain Less Sodium?

You can instead replace the aforementioned high-sodium foods with any of these:

  • Fish or shellfish
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Chicken or turkey breast (without skin)
  • Dried peas and beans
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Lentils and oats

While sodium helps maintain the electrolyte balance of your body, it is important not to overdo it. You must thus be aware of food items with potentially high sodium content. Pickles, soy sauce, cheese, ham, olives, salami, and beef jerky are a few of the commonly consumed food items that can increase your sodium levels beyond the required limit. While the recommended daily allowance of sodium is 2300 mg or less, people with high blood pressure or other cardiac conditions should limit their salt intake to less than 1500 mg per day. Along with avoiding high-sodium food items, choosing fresh fruits and veggies over junk food helps maintain the right sodium and electrolyte balance in your body.

Frequently Asked Questions

How good (or bad) is sodium for fat loss?

Though excess sodium doesn’t have much of an effect on fat loss, it sure can obstruct weight loss. This is because sodium intake causes you to retain more water in your system – causing an increase in water weight.

Is a high-sodium intake bad for health irrespective of the age?

Absolutely. High sodium intake increases calcium loss from the bones and may cause water retention in the body.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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  12. In vitro and in vivo anti-allergic activity of soy sauce
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  13. Antioxidant action of soy isoflavones on oxidative stress and antioxidant enzyme activities in exercised rats
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  16. Snacks beef jerky chopped and formed
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  18. Celery raw
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  20. Olives and Bone: A Green Osteoporosis Prevention Option
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  27. Sodium and bone health: impact of moderately high and low salt intakes on calcium metabolism in postmenopausal women
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Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He has been in the digital media field for over... more

Madhu Sharma

(RD)
Madhu Sharma is a member of the National Executive Committee of IDA. She has been associated for almost three decades... more

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