Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sodium Smackdown: Sliced Deli Turkey

The amount of sodium in food (particularly processed food) is staggering.  The government recommends no more than 2,400mg daily.  For someone with high blood pressure, it's 1,500mg per day.

That is a number that is very, very hard to stay under. And it has *nothing* to do with the salt shaker. Far and away, most of the sodium people consume is already in the food they buy.

So with that in mind, today we look at the category of sliced deli turkey.  I love turkey sandwiches.  I eat them all the time.  I always have one for lunch.

So here's a popular brand.  Boar's Head 47% Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast.

The numbers:

Per 2 ounce serving: 60 calories, .5g fat, 340mg of sodium.  (source: Boar's Head website)


Columbus Reduced Sodium Turkey Breast.  This is sold at Trader Joe's and comes pre-sliced in an 8 ounce package.

Per 2 ounce serving: 60 calories, less than 1g of fat, 220mg of sodium. (source: Columbus website.)


The Boar's Head (as you can see in the picture) is $9.49 a pound.

The Columbus is sold in 8-ounce packages for $4.79 each, so that makes it $9.58 a pound.

Edge: Boar's Head, by 9 cents a pound.


The Boar's Head has 340mg per serving, the Columbus 220mg per serving.  340mg vs. 220mg of sodium might not seem like much of a difference, but here's the problem.  Who eats one 2 ounce serving of sliced turkey?  Not me.  I usually have 2 or 3 or 4 servings at one sitting.  4 servings of the Boar's Head is 1,360mg of sodium.  4 servings of the Columbus: only 880mg of sodium.  The salt really adds up.

Edge: Columbus, by a mile.


The Columbus tastes much better than the Boar's Head. It's almost as if the sodium were reversed, except it's not.  The Boar's Head, while still tasting quite good, has more of a bland flavor.  The Columbus is just that much better.

Edge: Columbus, by a large margin.


The Columbus brand proves that it is possible to remove the sodium from a product without sacrificing the taste.  It CAN be done.


  1. One thing that really bugs me is why does cottage cheese have so much sodium. If it weren't for the sodium it would be an almost perfect food. Low on calories (about 70/100g), lots of calcium and it just tastes great. Unfortunately 400mg of sodium in only 100g. And 100 is nothing for a decent meal.

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  3. nice idea.. thanks for posting.