American diets full of sodium, but most don't know it

(NBC) - On just about any kitchen or restaurant table in America lives the salt shaker, but it is the hidden salt that experts say is the real problem.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that sodium is in a lot of foods that don't taste salty," says clinical dietitian Lisa Cimperman.

She says most adults should be getting between 2,000 and 3,000 milligrams  of sodium each day, which is equivalent to about a teaspoon. Most of us are consuming anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams.

"It is insanely easy to consume large quantities of sodium even if you're not one of those people who's eating a lot of processed junk food," said Cimperman.

Bread, hardly considered junk food, can hide a lot of sodium behind the promise of whole grains. Cimperman's tip is to compare labels before choosing a baguette for your basket.

Fresh produce and salads are natural choices for a low-sodium meal, but watch what you put on top of such healthy fare.

"You may think you're doing a good healthy thing by choosing a low-fat salad dressing, but they vary greatly in terms of the sodium content," said Cimperman.

Salt also finds its way into baked goods in the form of sodium bicarbonate or more commonly known as "baking soda."

Experts say, don't pass the salt but pass on it and learn to flavor food with herbs and spices instead to try to shake that salt habit.

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