Salt Reality Check: Nutritionist Offers Tips for Managing Sodium Intake at Mealtime
Think twice before adding extra dressing to your salad at lunchtime. A few tablespoons of salad dressing alone could contain your recommended daily amount of sodium.
The FDA is considering a new recommendation for all Americans to lower their sodium intake from 3,400 mg to 1,500 mg per day - that adds up to about 2/3 of a teaspoon. But considering the average American consumes more than double that on a daily basis, it's not going to be easy.
Restaurants may also have to lower the amount of salt in their dishes, following the successful artificial trans-fats fight, launched nationwide in 2006.
"Nightline" asked nutritionist and registered dietitian Cynthia Sass to create four average dinners for us to see just how quickly that salt can add up.
Here is her breakdown of a kid's meal, a microwave meal, a football game day meal and a date night meal:
MEAL 1 - Kids Dinner: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich
1 can Campbell's tomato condensed soup ( one can is 2.5 servings) - 1,200 mg
2 slices wheat bread - 320 mg
2 slices Kraft singles - 560 mg
1 Tbsp margarine - 100 mg
Total: 2,180 mg
MEAL 2 - Microwave Dinner: Frozen Chicken Pot Pie & Salad with Ranch Dressing
Marie Callendar's Chicken Pot Pie - 1,700 mg
Dole bagged salad - 10 mg
Kraft ranch dressing, 2 Tbsp - 370 mg
Total: 2,080 mg
MEAL 3 - Football Game Day: Pizza Delivery & Wings
4 slices medium Pizza Hut pepperoni pan pizza - 2,360 mg
4 medium traditional Buffalo wings - 1,600 mg
Total: 3,960 mg
MEAL 4 - Date Night: Olive Garden's Salad & Lasagna
1 serving garden fresh salad with dressing - 1,930 mg
Classic lasagna - 2,830 mg
Total: 4,760 mg
All of these meals top the 1500 mg recommendation for the WHOLE DAY - and each was just one meal! The Olive Garden dinner is more than THREE days worth of sodium rolled into just one of your three meals of the day.
Sass recommends reading labels carefully - counting calories isn't enough anymore. Here is an example of Sass's recommendation for a healthier meal:
MEAL 5 - Family Dinner: Stir Fry Chicken with Brown Rice
2 cups Asian vegetable mix - 30 mg
Stir fry sauce recipe: 1 Tbsp 100 percent orange juice, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp chopped scallions, ½ tsp fresh grated ginger, dash crushed red pepper - 0 mg
3 oz chicken breast - 64 mg
1 cup brown rice - 10 mg
Total: 104 mg
Watch ABC's Linsay Davis' full "Nightline" report here: