Brown-bagging your lunch can be great for your health—but did you know your sandwich could secretly be a sodium bomb? Bread and cold cuts, followed closely by cheese, top the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of 10 foods that, combined, account for 44 percent of the salt Americans eat. “Some of the saltiest foods don’t necessarily taste salty,” says Dr. Janet Bond Brill, author of Blood Pressure Down. Use these tips to lighten your sodium load at lunch.
Bread: Even 100% whole wheat bread can pack tons of sodium. Instead, look for varieties explicitly labeled low- or no-sodium, and check that they contain less than 140mg per serving.
Meat: Just 2 ounces of deli meat can contain almost half of your entire daily sodium limit, says Brill. Choose lower-sodium options, or even better, use leftover chicken or turkey from last night’s dinner.
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Cheese: Swap creamy avocado or homemade hummus for a slice of American or cheddar cheese, which can contain more than 300mg of sodium.
Mustard: Just 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard can contain 120mg of sodium. Add a bit of spice instead with a dash of hot sauce or horseradish.
Mayonnaise: Cut the sodium in low-fat mayonnaise in half by mixing with equal parts non-fat Greek yogurt.
Pickles: Try cucumbers for the same crunch with zero salt.
Veggies: Pile on potassium-rich veggies like spinach and tomatoes to help counterbalance high sodium levels in your body.