Consumer Reports examines levels of sodium in foods

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — New findings to be published in the January 2009 issue of Consumer Reports suggest foods that consumers may not expect to contain much sodium in some cases actually have more sodium than a bag of potato chips.

As part of the study, "Shake salt from your diet," Consumer Reports visited several supermarkets and located products that consumers may be surprised to find contain a lot of salt. Among the findings, Twizzler Black Licorice Twists were found to contain 200 mg of sodium in a four strand serving, while Twizzlers Strawberry Licorice had 115 mg.

Raisin bran cereals also were linked to heavy levels of sodium, according to Consumer Reports, with Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal registering 350 mg of sodium per cup, Post Raisin Bran containing 300 mg, and Total Raisin Bran with 230 mg.

Another product heavy in sodium content was Jell-O Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix, which contains 420 mg per serving in its chocolate variety; lemon, 310 mg; and chocolate fudge, 380 mg.

The Consumer Reports study found that some lower-fat products may be higher in sodium than their full-fat counterparts. For instance, a serving of Ruffles Original Potato Chips has 10 grams of fat and 160 mg of sodium while the baked version of the chips has 3 grams of fat but 200 mg of sodium.

Consumer Reports
also examined 37 foods and four salt substitutes to see how their actual sodium content compared with the amount claimed on the label. With the exception of one product — Enrico’s Traditional Pasta Sauce No Salt Added — the labels were accurate in what they claimed the sodium content of the product was, the study found. In the case of the Enrico’s product, the label listed 25 mg of sodium per half-cup serving, but Consumer Reports found one of the three samples it tested to have about 160 mg and another had approximately 250 mg.

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