Help Eating Low-Sodium and Low-Carb

Q: My parents have to watch their sodium intake, as well as control their diabetes. Packaging can be very deceiving. When we're reading labels, we notice that the low-carb option often contains more sodium than the regular product. How do we find low-sodium, low-carb products?

A: Unfortunately, some manufacturers add flavor to low-carb or low-fat foods by adding sodium. The best way to know how much sodium is in the food is to check the nutrition facts label, just as you're doing. Products can make the low-sodium nutrition claim if they contain 140 milligrams of sodium or less per serving. You may also see claims such as "no salt added," which means salt was not added during processing, yet the food may not be low in sodium.

When evaluating recipes, consider that side dishes, snacks, and desserts that contain more than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving or entrées with more than 800 milligrams of sodium per serving to be significant sources of sodium. The goal for people with diabetes with or without high blood pressure is 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day or less. Keep in mind that eating enough fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy foods can help control high blood pressure.

Jeannette Jordan, MS, RD, CDE, is the American Dietetic Association's national spokesperson for African-American nutrition issues and oversees nutrition education at the Medical University of South Carolina.