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Salt! Salt! Where’s the salt?

Jimmy Buffet wrote a popular summertime favorite titled Margaritaville, the best part of the song is when everyone cheers “Salt! Salt! Where’s the salt?” about the missing salt on the rim of a cold margarita.  But what Jimmy Buffet may not have known, is how much sodium is on just one margarita rim. 

Photo by Jeff K

To put it in perspective, the average American eats 3,436 mg of sodium every day, which is greater than double the American Heart Association’s recommendation of limiting your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day!  The 600 mg of sodium on each margarita mug, definitely will not help the situation. 

Salt comes in many forms, including table salt, sodium, sodium chloride, sea salt, popcorn salt, and kosher salt.  All of these salts are loaded with sodium.  Just a pinch (1/4 tsp) of salt has 610 mg of sodium. A ½ teaspoon provides 1,219 mg of sodium. In fact, 1 teaspoon has a whopping 2,438 mg of sodium, easily more than enough for the day! 

The best thing you can do to help you and your family lower your risk of high blood pressure is to ditch the salt shaker.  One study found that for every 400 mg of sodium eliminated from the American diet daily, would result in 200,000-250,000 less cases of heart disease and death over the next decade.  

So, where’s the salt?

Photo by Krissen

Sodium can also be found in processed foods, so be sure to check the labels.  Choose low sodium and salt free foods when available.  If lower sodium versions are not available, try to choose foods with the lowest sodium content.  

A good rule of thumb is to try to make meals with less than 300 mg of sodium per meal.


Watch out for these common salty culprits….

BOXES: including rice-a-roni, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas, dry soup mix, stuffing mix, hamburger helper, pot pies, crackers, and TV dinners

CANS:  including soups, vegetables, chili, spaghettiOs, gravy

BAGSsalty snacks including chips, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, processed meats including lunch meats, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, and processed cheese such as American cheese slices

JARS:  including soy sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, vegetable juice, spaghetti sauce, pickles, hot sauce, chili sauce, sauerkraut, olives, salad dressing

McDonald’s fast food sodium facts:


  • Double Cheeseburger – 1040 mg                                                            
  • Angus bacon and cheese burger – 2070 mg
  • Grilled chicken sandwich – 1190 mg
  • Chicken McNuggets (6) – 600 mg
  • Chicken Select strips (5) – 1680 mg
  • Southwest salad with grilled chicken – 960 mg
  • Newman’s Own Low fat Balsamic Vinaigrette – 730 mg 
  • Medium French fries – 270 mg
  • Bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit – 1160 mg
  • Sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddle – 1360 mg
  • Big breakfast – 1560 mg
  • Hashbrown – 310 mg
  • Ketchup packet – 110 mg
  • Salt packet – 270 mg


  • Hamburger – 520 mg
  • Small French fries – 160 mg (or ask for no salt)
  • Southwest salad (without chicken) – 150 mg
  • Side salad – 10 mg
  • English muffin -280 mg
  • Fruit & maple oatmeal – 160 mg
  • Fruit and walnut salad – 60 mg
  • Fruit and yogurt parfait – 85 mg
  • Apple dippers with lowfat caramel dip – 35 mg


These numbers may not seem too alarming, but think about the average meal.

For breakfast, you may order the breakfast burrito meal, 2 burritos and a hashbrown, providing a grand total of 1970 mg of sodium. 

For lunch, you may choose the premium bacon ranch salad with grilled chicken and ranch dressing, providing 1640 mg of sodium. 

Your dinner meal may be a quarter pounder with cheese, medium fries, and 2 packets of ketchup, providing an outstanding 2000 mg of sodium.

It seems no matter what you choose outside the home, it will be high in sodium.  Try to limit your time in fast food places, otherwise it may limit your time here on earth.

The American Heart Association’s tips for reducing sodium in YOUR diet


  • Choose fresh, frozen or canned food items without added salts.
  • Select unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils.
  • Limit salty snacks like chips and pretzels.
  • Avoid adding salt and canned vegetables to homemade dishes.
  • Select unsalted, lower sodium, fat-free broths, bouillons or soups.
  • Select fat-free or low-fat milk, low-sodium, low-fat cheeses and low-fat yogurt.
  • Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food.  Most spices naturally contain very small amounts of sodium.
  • Add fresh lemon juice instead of salt to fish and vegetables.
  • Specify how you want your food prepared when dining out. Ask for your dish to be prepared without salt.
  • Don’t use the salt shaker. Use the pepper shaker or mill.


Salt, it’s not just for your food

Looking for something to do with the table salt your family is no longer using?  Here are some interesting ideas from Morton Salt

  • Play-do

Kids and parents alike have fun making Morton Klaymates—rainy day salt sculpture friends. In medium saucepan, mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup Morton ® Salt, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 cup water, and a few drops of food coloring (optional). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick and lumpy as it cooks. Cool slightly and then knead in 1 or 2 drops of vegetable oil. Store in a plastic bag. For more brilliant shades, use paste food colors (available where cake decorating supplies are sold).

  • Chill wine or champagne

To quickly chill a bottle of wine or champagne, place the bottle in an ice bucket or other tall plastic container. Add a layer of ice on the bottom and sprinkle it with a few tablespoons of Morton ® Salt. Continue to layer salt and ice until it reaches the neck of the bottle. Then add water to ice level. After 10-12 minutes, open and serve. Rinse ice bucket thoroughly after use.

  • Soothe sore throat

To alleviate the discomfort of a mild sore throat, gargle several times daily with a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon Morton ® Salt and 1/2 cup warm water*. It’s like taking a liquid lozenge.

*Gargling with warm salt water is recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology to alleviate mild sore throat pain. See a physician if your sore throat persists longer than five days or if the sore throat is accompanied by difficulty in breathing or swallowing, joint pain, earache, a rash or fever.

  • Wipe out wine stains

A fine wine is hard to appreciate when it stains your nicest shirt. Simply use Morton ® Salt to help remove wine stains from cotton fabric. Immediately pour enough salt directly on the stain to soak up the liquid. Immerse the fabric for 1/2 hour in cold water. Launder as usual.

  • Eliminate fish odors
  Removing fish odor from your hands is simple with Morton ® Salt. Just rub your hands with a lemon wedge dipped in salt, then rinse with water.  


Try these low or reduced sodium recipes. Enjoy!


Recipe: Halibut with tomato basil salsa 

By Mayo Clinic staff

Serves 4


2 tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 halibut fillets, each 4 ounces


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the tomato, basil, oregano and garlic. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Arrange the halibut fillets in the baking pan. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish. Place in the oven and bake until the fish is opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer to individual plates and serve immediately.

Nutritional Analysis 

(per serving)

Serving size: 1 fillet
Calories 160 Cholesterol 36 mg
Protein 24 g Sodium 65 mg
Carbohydrate 3 g Fiber 1 g
Total fat 5 g Potassium 672 mg
Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 66 mg
Monounsaturated fat 3 g    


Recipe: Orange rosemary roasted chicken

By Mayo Clinic staff

Serves 6


  • 3 skinless, bone-in chicken breast halves, each 8 ounces
  • 3 skinless, bone-in chicken legs with thigh pieces, each 8 ounces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup orange juice


Preheat the oven to 450 F. Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray. Rub each piece of chicken with garlic. Dab fingers in oil and rub with oil, and sprinkle with rosemary and pepper. Place the chicken pieces in the baking dish. Pour the orange juice over the chicken. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and return to the oven until browned, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Baste the chicken with the orange juice from the pan as needed to prevent it from drying out. Transfer the chicken to individual serving plates. Spoon orange juice from the pan over the top of the chicken and serve immediately.

Nutritional Analysis

(per serving)

Calories 204 Cholesterol 99 mg
Protein 31 g Sodium 134 mg
Carbohydrate 2 g Fiber 0 g
Total fat 8 g Potassium 433 mg
Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 15 mg
Monounsaturated fat 3 g    

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