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Food Swap for Less Salt: How to Make Healthier Kids’ Lunches, Snacks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’re a label reader, here is a nutrition fact you don’t want to miss. It’s not just calories, fat and sugar you should be checking. Another culprit assaulting our diets is sodium -- and it can be found in just about everything.

A new study shows that children and teens in the United States on average are taking in as much sodium as adults. Since kids’ bodies are smaller, consuming that much sodium each day could mean major health problems when they grow up.

Registered dietician Cynthia Sass worked with Nightline to compare the sodium content in kids’ lunches and snacks. Here’s a breakdown and suggestions on what you can do to make healthier lunches and snacks for you and your family.

[TAKE THE QUIZ: Which Product Has More Sodium?]

LUNCH: Instead of deli-sliced turkey on white bread with American cheese and mayo:

  • 3 oz deli oven roasted turkey -- 420 mg sodium
  • 2 slices white Wonder bread -- 300 mg sodium
  • 1 slice Kraft American cheese -- 200 mg sodium
  • 1 Tbsp Hellman’s mayo -- 90 mg sodium

TOTAL: 1,010 mg sodium

Try grilled chicken breast with Swiss cheese on an English muffin with mustard:

  • 3 oz baked or grilled chicken breast -- 75 mg sodium
  • 1 honey wheat Thomas’ English muffin -- 180 mg sodium
  • 1 slice baby Swiss cheese -- 35 mg sodium
  • 1 tsp French’s yellow mustard -- 55 mg sodium

TOTAL: 345 mg sodium -- a difference of 665 mg sodium

Also consider trying this fresh food lunch recipe as an option:

Turkey Taco Boats

  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 4 large outer Romaine leaves
  • 3 oz cooked extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen, thawed organic sweet corn or kernels sliced from 1 medium ear of fresh roasted organic corn
  • 4 lime wedges
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ of a medium avocado, sliced

On stovetop over medium heat, sauté peppers and onions in broth until tender, set aside. Mix cilantro into ground turkey. Fill each Romaine leaf with turkey, then corn and squeeze with fresh lime. Top with salsa, sautéed vegetables and avocado and serve.

Sodium total: 386 mg

SNACKS: Instead of Cheetos and Oreo cookies:

  • 1 single serving snack bag of Cheetos -- 290 mg sodium
  • 1 Oreo cookie from a 12-pack single serve -- 240 mg sodium

TOTAL: 530 mg sodium

Try plain Lay’s potato chips and Hershey kisses:

  • 1 single serving bag of regular Lay’s potato chips -- 180 mg sodium
  • 9 Hershey kisses -- 35 mg sodium

TOTAL: 215 mg sodium -- a different of 315 mg sodium

Also consider trying this fresh food snack recipe as an option:

Vanilla Almond Frozen Banana

  • 6 oz fat free organic yogurt
  • Seeds from 1 small vanilla bean or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 small banana peeled, not sliced
  • ¼ cup rolled oats (raw or toasted on a cookie sheet)
  • 2 Tbsp sliced or chopped almonds

Stir vanilla into yogurt. Dip banana into yogurt or spoon yogurt over banana to coat thoroughly. Mix oats and almonds. Sprinkle banana with nut mixture, wrap in wax paper and freeze at least 20 minutes.    

Sodium total: 120 mg

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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