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10 Tasty Alternatives to Your Favorite Salty Foods

Temptation #8: Lunch Meats (processed meat slices)

Americans love their sandwiches and tend to fill them with processed meats. Salt and sodium are added to these meats for two reasons -- shelf life (or food preservation) and taste. 

Packaged lunch meats, even when they look like they have just been carved, contain about 560 milligrams of sodium or more per 2-ounce serving.

Satisfying Alternative

Choose fresh meats like roast beef or pork tenderloin, roasted or grilled chicken, or turkey. They won’t last quite as long in your refrigerator so just buy or make what you will need in the next two days. 

You can also freeze individual servings of these meats for later use. Two ounces of roasted turkey without skin contains about 40 milligrams of sodium, and 2 ounces of bottom round roast beef adds about 26 milligrams. 

Using freshly cooked meat in your sandwiches makes a big difference in the sodium content, and you might even think it tastes better, too.

Temptation #9: French Fries from Fast Food or Restaurants

Most people can’t resist French fries as a side dish to their favorite fast-food or restaurant burger or sandwich. Even the smallest size of fast-food French fries adds at least 250 milligrams of sodium.

Satisfying Alternative

One medium-sized baked potato naturally contains about 17 milligrams of sodium. Obviously, most of the sodium in French fries comes from salt added after the potatoes are fried. 

Most of the frozen French fry products that you bake at home contain at least 300 milligrams of sodium per serving as well. 

You can ask a restaurant not to add salt to your fries, but this probably won’t work very well at a fast-food restaurant. 

Your best and final option is to make French fries at home the old-fashioned way -- cut a potato into steak fries or wedges, coat it lightly with some canola oil, and bake in a 450-degree oven until golden (about 30 minutes). This way, you decide exactly how much salt you want to sprinkle on top.

Temptation #10: Fast Food Burger or Sandwich

One fast-food burger or sandwich alone can exceed the daily recommendation for sodium. In one popular fast-food chain, I found eight burger and sandwich options with more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium.

Satisfying Alternative

Make your own burger or chicken sandwich at home with your indoor grill. Season the burgers or skinless boneless chicken breasts with salt-free seasonings and dress them with lower sodium condiments such as horseradish, low sodium ketchup, chopped onion or peppers, and mustard if you keep it to 1 teaspoon (adding about 55 milligrams).

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

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Edited on May 09, 2011

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