Depending on the loaf, a single slice of bread could have up to 230 mg of sodium—15 percent of the 1,500 mg daily allowance for someone with high blood pressure. “If you’re having a sandwich, you’ll take two slices and double that,” says Martha Gulati, MD, cardiologist at the University of Arizona and editor-in-chief of cardiosmart.org. And if you’re having toast at breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and a roll during dinner, those numbers could stack up fast. Cut out where you can, like saying no to the bread basket at a restaurant, says Dr. Gulati. When you do need a carb fix, look for a loaf that has 140 mg of sodium or less per serving, says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Preventative Cardiology Services. Sprouted grain breads, which stores usually keep in the freezer aisle because they have fewer preservatives, are usually a safe bet, she says. Learn the signs that you eat too much salt.
Cold cuts and cured meats like hot dogs have hundreds of milligrams of sodium, especially if you like piling a sandwich high. “People think ‘it’s low-fat and not bad for me,’” says Dr. Gulati. But that high-sodium content can make your body hang on to fluid and raise your blood pressure. If you can’t find a low-sodium version you like, try a different type of sandwich, says Patton. She recommends baking chicken breast at the start of the week to slice up for lunch, or using tuna or natural peanut butter for your protein. Learn how the DASH diet can lower blood pressure.