Common Foods That Are High in Sodium

Some of These Might Surprise You

The adequate intake of sodium for adults is 1,500 milligrams per day. Daily intakes above 2,300 milligrams per day are considered to be too high. If you've decided it's time to cut back on sodium, you'll quickly realize how difficult it can be to avoid. By learning to read labels and identify common high-sodium foods, you can make headway towards meeting the recommendation.

How to Cut Back on Sodium

Table salt is just one source of sodium. Preservatives and flavor enhancers often contain sodium as well, including monosodium glutamate (MSG), taco seasoning, soy sauce, marinades, and condiments. Some added sodium can be avoided by cooking at home, since restaurant meals tend to be high in sodium.

Check the Nutrition Facts label on processed foods before you buy and compare products for lower-sodium options. Look for canned products with no added salt, or rinse food from cans under running water to reduce their sodium content.

Scroll through this list for some insight on high-sodium foods to watch out for. You just might be surprised.

1

Sausage

Sausage

​Verywell / Lindsay Kreighbaum

Sausages, as well as most other processed meats, are high in sodium due to the salt, preservatives, and flavor enhancers. A typical 3-ounce sausage has at least 500 milligrams of sodium and oftentimes more than 1,500 milligrams. It's easy to see how sausage can rack up your daily sodium intake.

Unfortunately, even sausage marketed as a healthier alternative, such as turkey sausage, tends to be high in sodium, too. Food manufacturers may add extra sodium to make up for the loss in flavor when fat content is reduced. Checking labels (or making your own) is the only way to know what you're really getting.

2

Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese Crumbles
Juanmonino / Getty Images

Cheese can be relatively high in sodium, especially after more than a single 1-ounce serving (which is just one slice). Some types of cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, brie, and provolone aren't as high in sodium, whereas processed American cheese usually is.

An ounce of blue cheese can have as much as 310 milligrams of sodium. Combined with croutons and dressing, blue cheese can quickly turn a large salad into a surprisingly high-sodium meal.

3

Dill Pickles

Large dill pickles
Brian Yarvin / Getty Images

Dill pickles can be especially high in sodium. A small spear may contain about 300 milligrams, while a large dill pickle (80 grams) has 700 milligrams or more. Even a small slice of dill pickle can have almost 60 milligrams. Sweet pickles fare a little better. A large Gherkin (about three inches long) has about 160 milligrams.

4

Burritos

Salad Wrap
Irina Marwan / Getty Images

A burrito is basically a tortilla filled with beans and cheese, and maybe some beef, chicken, or pork. It may be topped with a bit of sour cream or guacamole, with lettuce and salsa tucked inside.

Fresh vegetables in a burrito are generally sodium-free, but the tortilla, cheese, salsa, beans (especially if they're canned), seasoned meat, and other toppings quickly add up. A large, fast-food burrito is likely to have over 1,000 milligrams of sodium.

5

Onion Rings

Onion rings on plate with ketchup
FoodPhotography Eising / Getty Images

Onion rings can go from "high in sodium" to "off the charts" depending on where you get them. A restaurant serving of onion rings can contain around 2,000 milligrams of sodium or more.

The next time you order onion rings, ask your server to skip the salt and sprinkle a tiny bit on yourself or share the basket with a friend. Frozen onion rings from a grocery store usually come in at about 200 milligrams per serving, but always check the label to be sure.

6

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken in a serving basket
Daniel Loiselle / Getty Images

Fried chicken is high in sodium, even if you remove the skin. Many chicken manufacturers soak or inject chicken meat with salt water (brine), to keep it juicy.

One fried chicken breast with the skin has about 1,300 milligrams of sodium. Leaving the skin behind will save you about 400 milligrams of sodium. A drumstick with the skin has over 400 milligrams of sodium.

7

Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Inexpensive little bags of ramen noodles are quite high in sodium. One package has about 1,100 milligrams of sodium. You might be able to find brands with less sodium, but often they're still higher in sodium than other noodle dishes.

Try using half the package and bulking up your ramen noodle meal with scrambled egg and diced veggies to create a complete and more nutritious meal that's lower in sodium. You could also buy fresh angel hair pasta and stir fry it yourself with low sodium seasonings.

8

King Crab

King crab legs on a slate
GYRO PHOTOGRAPHY / amanaimagesRF / Getty Images

Crabmeat varies in sodium content by species and how it's prepared. For example, a 3-ounce serving of Dungeness crab has less than 400 milligrams of sodium, but the same amount of king crab meat has 900 milligrams sodium. One king crab leg has over 1,400 milligrams sodium.

9

Veggie Burgers

Veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

Veggie burgers may be tasty and made with healthy ingredients, but they can also be a little high in sodium. One veggie burger patty has 400 to 600 milligrams of sodium, and that's before it's put on a bun and loaded with tasty toppings. Mustard, catsup, and cheese add extra sodium, while fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onions don't.

10

Pot Pies

Chicken pot pie on plate
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

Those small pot pies that you find in the frozen food aisle are convenient because all you need to do is heat and eat. But a frozen pot pie has a lot of sodium. A single serving chicken, beef, or turkey pot pie easily contains 700 milligrams of sodium or more.

Be aware, that's also for one serving, which is typically half of the pot pie. Check the "servings per container" on the food label to better understand the total sodium content. A piece of homemade pot pie may have less sodium, but it all depends on how you make it.

11

Baked Beans

Baked beans in skillet
James And James / Getty Images

Canned baked beans are certainly an excellent source of fiber and protein, but most of the time they're also high in sodium. A cup of canned baked beans has over 1,000 milligrams of sodium.

Unfortunately, a cup of homemade baked beans has about the same, unless you find a low-salt recipe. Luckily, low-sodium products are becoming more and more popular, so you may be able to find a low-sodium version from your favorite brands.

12

Clam Chowder

New England clam chowder in glass bowl
Louise Casault / Getty Images

The most common forms of clam chowder are the creamy New England clam chowder and the tomato-based Manhattan style. They're both delicious, but they're also high in sodium. One cup of either type has anywhere from 600 to 1,000 milligrams of sodium, depending on the brand (with canned varieties usually on the higher end).

13

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwiches
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

A typical fast-food breakfast sandwich that's made with ham, bacon, or sausage, along with egg and cheese, has about 1,000–2,000 milligrams of sodium. An average frozen breakfast sandwich from a grocery store has about 600 milligrams of sodium.

To keep the sodium down, try making your own at home. Top it with tomato slices, sauteed onions, or avocado. Have fruit on the side (rather than hash browns) for another low-sodium switch.

14

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes in casserole dish
Sharon Scheurich - Canarybird, Tenerife Journal / Getty Images

Scalloped potatoes are prepared with cheese, butter, and milk or cream. A cup of scalloped potatoes has about 800 milligrams of sodium. Regardless of whether you make them from scratch or use a mix, the sodium count is about the same (unless you specifically search for a lower-sodium recipe).

15

Russian and Thousand Island Dressing

Salad with container of 1000 Island dressing

 Acme Food Arts / Getty Images

Most salad dressings have under 200 milligrams per 2-tablespoon serving, but Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing both have at least 300 milligrams per serving.

Without measuring, it's really easy to add more than 2 tablespoons to a large salad. Check dressing labels to find lower-sodium brands, or stick with oil and vinegar or another homemade option to avoid or easily reduce added sodium.

A Word from Verywell

As you can see from the examples above, it doesn't take much to overdo it on sodium. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or overly restricted, focus on making small changes to reduce your intake.

Every little bit counts, so it's OK to make progress without being perfect. Start by reading food labels and incorporating more fresh food into your meal plan. Before you know it, you'll find new opportunities to cut down on extra sodium without even missing it.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dietary reference intakes for potassium and sodium. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Updated March 2019.

  2. Blue cheese crumbles. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  3. Dill pickle. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  4. Cucumber pickles, sweet. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  5. Taco bell, burrito supreme with beef. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  6. Applebee's, crunchy onion rings. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  7. Fast foods, fried chicken, breast, meat and skin and breading. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  8. Ramen noodles. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  9. Crustaceans, crab, alaska king, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  10. Veggie burger. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  11. Chicken pot pie. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  12. Beans, baked, canned with pork. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  13. Clam chowder. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  14. Egg, cheese and sausage on a bagel. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  15. Potato, scalloped, NFS. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  16. Thousand island dressing. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.