Not sure this is a surprise, but the CDC has released a damning report on salt levels in packaged foods we find at the grocery store. Everything from pizza to cold cuts to packaged meals were singled out in the report.

Yeah, when I buy a frozen pizza, I think I know what I’m doing is detrimental to my health. Why do I buy it? Hell if I know.

Excess salt is a risk factor for high blood pressure, which is a chief risk factor for heart disease and strokes.

“We looked at packaged food sales in grocery stores,” said study researcher Linda Schieb, an epidemiologist in the division of heart disease and stroke prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What we found was more than 50 percent of those products exceeded the FDA healthy food label guidelines for sodium.”

The team used 2009 grocery store product sales data from 52 markets in three of the nine U.S. census districts. About half the country was represented. Walmart and warehouse clubs were excluded from the study.

I live within 30 minutes of four Super Walmarts. Anecdotally, it’s just as salty when grabbing your sandwich meat from the cooler.

Research Findings

Researchers found more than 70 percent of pizza, meat mixed dishes, pasta mixed dishes exceeded what the FDA deems ‘healthy’ on labelling for sodium content. 50 to 70 percent of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches blew past the ‘healthy’ mark.

salt cdc packaged foods

One area that did well was bread, savory snacks and cheese. Seriously, if I ever bite into a French loaf and it tastes as salty as a can of chicken noodle soup, I’m rushing to the ER.

This doesn’t mean you should stock up on bread and cheese. I know, it’s tempting to come up with that diet book before someone else does.


A problem with staying under FDA recommended daily sodium guidelines is packaged food. Say you want a ham sandwich and a cup of soup? Later daily intake allowance. That puts you well over 2,000 mg.

“The majority of our sodium comes from restaurant food and processed food.So it’s important to read the labels and choose lower sodium options. Make sure you are also eating fruits and vegetables,” Schieb said.

Is the CDC saying avoid fast food and prepackaged foods? In a perfect world, probably. They are definitely recommending you wander to the produce section of your local grocery store.


So, what can you do to have your pizza and eat it too? For healthy people, the daily sodium allowance is 2,300 mg. You have some room to eat what you want if you’re willing to toss some veggies on top.

Easiest way to avoid too much sodium is a diverse diet. Instead of the second sandwich for lunch, toss an apple on it. It may not keep the doctor away anymore, but it’s the healthier option.

Eat at home.

For whatever reason, fast food restaurants do not train in the art of sprinkling salt on fries. Cooking at home allows you to add salt to taste, and you eat healthier on average if you’re cooking.

Some dieticians even recommend using packaged food as a base. Macaroni and cheese night? Add fresh or frozen vegetables to the meal.

The news boils down to common sense. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Exercise. We all know the mantra at this point.


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