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Sauces, Gravies, Stocks, Salad Dressings, and Condiments

As shown in Table 4-9, sauces, gravies, stocks, salad dressings, and condiments are often high in sodium. Reasons for sodium use include flavor, preservation, and improving the stability of emulsions (by improving the solubility of emulsifiers). Flavor is a main reason for adding salt to these products, and saltiness is often one of the major characteristics of these items (Hutton, 2002).

In most condiments, salt also plays a role in preservation (Brady, 2002), combined with other hurdles to microbial growth. Sodium-containing additives also may be added to salad dressings, sauces, and condiments to act as emulsifiers or preservatives. For soy sauce, which is very high in sodium, salt is needed to influence the fermentation process in its production (Doyle et al., 2001).

Fruits, Vegetables, Beans, and Legumes

Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally very low in sodium, although salt may be added to fresh produce during home or foodservice preparation. Fruits that are processed further typically remain low in sodium (Van der Veer, 1985). Frozen vegetables generally do not have additional sodium unless components such as breadings or sauces are added to the product (Van der Veer, 1985). Dried pulses (beans, lentils, peas) are naturally low in sodium but they are often salted during home and foodservice cooking.

Canned vegetables are typically much higher in sodium than their fresh counterparts. In canning, a liquid medium is important for heat transfer during processing, and a salt brine is generally used because salt enhances the consistency and flavor of vegetables (Hutton, 2002; Van der Veer,

TABLE 4-9 Sodium Content of Sauces, Gravies, Stocks, Salad Dressings, and Condiments

Food Product


Average Sodium Content (mg/RACC)

Average Sodium Content (mg/100 g)

Italian dressing

30 g



Low-calorie buttermilk dressing

30 g



Brown gravy

¼ c = 60 g



White sauce

¼ c = 60 g




1 T = 15 g




1 tsp = 5 g




2 T = 30 g



NOTE: c = cup; g = gram; mg = milligram; RACC = reference amount customarily consumed; T = tablespoon; tsp = teaspoon.

SOURCES: 21 CFR 101.12; FDA, 2007.

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