Packaged foods are anything that comes in a can, bottle, jar, or box. They often taste good because they are high in sugar and salt. Nutrition labels and ingredient lists can tell you if a food has added sugar or salt.
How much is too much?
Each day, adults should not have more than:
- 2,300 mg of sodium
- 35g of sugar
Children should not have more than:
- 2,300 mg of sodium
- 26g of sugar
Sugar is Not So Sweet.
A nutrition label shows how many grams of sugar are in each serving, and how many servings there are. This amount includes the natural sugars from ingredients such as fruit or milk plus added sugars.
It is a good idea to limit foods with added sugars as much as possible. They are extra calories, without many nutrients. Look at the list of ingredients. If sugar is one of the first ingredients listed, chances are the food is high in added sugars. You can also check the front of the package—sometimes, labels will say "sugar-free" or "no added sugars."
Sugar Has Many Names.
Watch for ingredients that are actually sugar. Below are a few that you should try to limit in your diet:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetenter
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High fructose corn syrup
- Invert syrup
- Raw sugar
Say No to Sugary Drinks
Limiting sugary drinks can make a big difference in your children’s health—and in your health too. Studies show that, for some people, drinking water instead of sugary drinks can lead to losing 15 pounds in a year!
The Truth About Sugary Drinks
Cutting out one sugary drink each day can equal 15 pounds in a year. Find some great sugar-free drink options.
Most of the salt we eat comes from processed and ready-to-eat foods, not from the salt shaker. Eating too much salt (also called sodium) can raise blood pressure and lead to other serious health problems.
Cutting salt is better for your health.
The More Salt We Eat, the More Salt We Want.
When we (including children) eat lots of salty foods, we learn to like salty flavors. Serving foods lower in sodium can help us learn to like foods with a less salty taste.
Shake off the salt.
How can you avoid hidden salt?
- Look for packages that say “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”
- Look at nutritional labels and compare brands. Sometimes a different brand of the same food will have much less salt.
- When you cook, replace salt with other spices.
- Drain and rinse canned beans.
Low Sodium Swaps
|Fresh or frozen foods||Canned or processed foods|
|Fresh chicken||Chicken nuggets|
|Unsalted nuts, seeds, and peanut butter||Salted nuts, seeds, and peanut butter|
|Part of the flavor packet||The whole flavor packet|
Watch out for these items with high sodium. Skip them, or look for low-sodium versions:
- Soy sauce
- Flavor packets (like in instant soup)
- Salad dressings
- Barbeque sauce
- Sauces and gravies
Did You Know?
For the average person, eating less salt can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. That may reduce the risk of:
- Heart Disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney damage
Eating foods high in potassium such as dark leafy greens may help lower blood pressure.