Lower Sodium Lunch Meat Brands

See how sliced meats stack up when it comes to sodium

lower sodium lunch meat
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​Government sources say that most of us consume too much sodium in our daily diets. According to USDA guidelines, Americans should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating plan. But, on average, we consume 3,400 milligrams per day. Do you think you sprinkle too much salt on your food?

If you're a typical American, you may overuse the salt shaker at mealtime.

But much of the sodium you consume may also be hiding in processed foods. Products like spaghetti sauce, frozen meals and snack foods are loaded with sodium. Another common culprit is sandwich meat.

If you love to make a sandwich for lunch or dinner. Use these tips to find low sodium lunch meats, reduce your salt intake, and improve your daily diet.

What Is Low Sodium?

One of the hardest things about finding lower sodium lunch meats is trying to figure out the wording on food labels. The front of the package may advertise that your favorite meat is "lower in sodium," but does that mean that the food is actually low in sodium? No, it doesn't.

There are many different claims regarding sodium that you might see on the front of the package. This is what they actually mean according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the organization that regulates food packaging and labels.

  • Salt-free: less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
  • Sodium-free: less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
  • Low-sodium: less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving
  • Very low sodium: 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving
  • Reduced sodium: at least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the reference food (the comparable food as it is traditionally prepared)
  • Less sodium: at least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the reference food

As you can see, there are many different ways of saying that a food is lower in sodium and they don't all mean that it is actually low in sodium. So it's important to check the actually sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and see how it fits into your total sodium intake for the day.

Sodium in Lunch Meat Brands

There are many different brands of lunch meat that make lower sodium versions of their popular products. But again, you'll notice that many of the products are not actually low in sodium according to FDA standards. Here's how some of the most popular brands stack up.

Boar's Head makes several lower sodium versions of their lunch meat. But some are still quite high in sodium.

  • 42% Lower Sodium Branded Deluxe Ham: 480 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Beechwood Smoked Black Forest Ham (31% Lower Sodium) - 460 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Premium Lower Sodium Turkey Breast (skinless or skin on) - 360 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Hickory Smoked Black Forest Turkey Breast (40% Lower Sodium) - 390 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Deluxe Low Sodium Oven Roasted Beef - 80 milligrams sodium per serving
  • No Salt Added Oven Roasted Beef - 40 milligrams sodium per serving
  • No Salt Added Oven Roasted Turkey Breast - 55 milligrams sodium per serving

Butterball doesn't make products that are specifically labeled as low sodium, but their Natural Inspirations products have less sodium than the comparable traditional versions. For comparison purposes, Butterball's Rotisserie Seasoned Turkey Breast provides 460 milligrams of sodium per serving.

  • Natural Inspirations Turkey Breast Oven Roasted, Maple or Garlic Peppercorn - 210 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Inspirations Turkey Breast Hardwood Smoked - 190 milligrams sodium per serving

Hillshire Farm makes a line of lower sodium sandwich meats. According to the manufacturer, most of these products have 25 percent less sodium than traditionally prepared comparable lunch meats.

  • Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Honey Roasted Turkey Breast - 410 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Honey Ham - 450 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast - 420 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Smoked Ham - 450 milligrams sodium per serving

Maple Leaf Natural Selections is another popular brand among consumers. Their lunch meats fare about the same as other brands when comparing similar meats.

  • Single Serve Shaved Oven Roasted Chicken - 360 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Shaved Hickory Smoked Turkey - 530 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast - 570 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Baked Ham - 570 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Baked Honey Ham - 630 milligrams sodium per serving

Applegate natural and organic meats provides products that is free from antibiotics or hormones. But many of the meats are still relatively high in sodium.

  • Natural Slow Cooked Ham - 480 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Smoked Turkey Breast - 360 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Roasted Turkey Breast - 360 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Roasted Chicken Breast - 360 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Roast Beef - 320 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Honey Ham - 450 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Natural Barbecue Chicken Breast - 420 milligrams sodium per serving

You might notice a few trends from brand to brand. Ham tends to be higher in sodium than other varieties. Sliced turkey also tends to be higher in sodium than roast beef or chicken, depending on the preparation. The lowest sodium lunch meats listed are those labeled "no salt added."

If you get your lunch meat from the deli counter, be sure to ask the counter attendant for nutrition data if you are looking for lunch meat with less salt. Often, printed materials are available and it may not be safe to assume that fresh-sliced meat has less sodium.

Tips to Make a Lower Sodium Lunch

If you are trying to reduce salt in your afternoon meals, these guidelines may help.

  • Be mindful of serving size. The portion size you choose to eat may be different than the serving size listed, which is usually one ounce. How many ounces are there in a single deli slice? Depending on how thick the slices are cut, there could be anywhere from one to three slices. You'll consume more sodium if you eat more than what is suggested on the label.
  • Make your own meat. The lowest sodium lunch meat may be the variety that you make at home. Roast your own turkey or chicken (one is that is not packed in sodium solution) and slice it yourself to cut back on salt.
  • Avoid the processed cheese. If you add a slice of cheese to your sandwich you'll further increase your sodium intake. For example, one slice of American cheese provides 330 - 460 milligrams of sodium.
  • Skip the soup. Beware if you pair your sandwich with soup at meal time. Canned soup is another food that is traditionally high in sodium.
  • Watch your condiments. Love mayo and mustard? Check the Nutrition Facts label for the sodium content because it may boost your total intake. Consider spreading fresh avocado instead.
  • Don't forget about bread. Most bread will boost your salt intake to some degree. Check the label and choose one with lower sodium.

Trying to find a low sodium lunch meat is tricky, since processed meats tend to be high in sodium. But with this guide to labeling you can make smarter choices to keep your intake in control.

Sources:

Clemson Cooperative Extension. HGIC 4061 nutrient claims on food labels: Extension: Clemson university: South Carolina. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/dietary_guide/hgic4061.html.

USDA. Information on sodium/salt. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/resource-library/foods/information-sodiumsalt

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for industry: A food labeling guide (9. Appendix A: Definitions of nutrient content claims). http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064911.htm

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Consumer information on reducing sodium intake. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm253316.htm

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