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TurkeyTest Your IQ

The holidays are filled with comfort foods and family-favorite recipes. On average, which of these traditional holiday comfort foods contains the most sodium per serving? Take our quick quiz to test your salt IQ.

  1. 1 slice of pumpkin pie
  2. 1/2 cup serving of stuffing
  3. 1 serving turkey with gravy (3.5 oz. turkey + 1 T. gravy)
  4. 1/2 cup serving mashed potatoes

Sodium chloride, better known as salt, is a vital nutrient for the human body. But you can have too much of a good thing. All of these traditionally-prepared holiday foods contain high levels of sodium, but the item with the most sodium is the stuffing, containing 524 mg of sodium in a half cup serving. The turkey with gravy contains the next highest amount of sodium, 483 mg, followed by the pumpkin pie with 450 mg of sodium and mashed potatoes with 333 mg sodium.

To put it in perspective, a holiday meal consisting of all the items above contains 1790 mg sodium. Experts suggest a daily intake of 2,400 milligrams of sodium for those without high blood pressure or kidney disease, which is about a teaspoon of salt. Sodium limits for people with kidney disease may be much lower. In this one meal alone, you would have almost maxed out on the recommended sodium intake for the day, and that doesn’t take into account breakfast and lunch. Most Americans are eating 50 percent more salt than they need.

How can you reduce the amount of salt in your diet? A good place to start is by putting down the salt shaker, but most of the salt consumed actually comes from less obvious places. Consider where salt may be hiding in your diet — main sources are processed and prepared foods (like frozen dinners or canned items), as well as restaurant meals. It’s important to note that sweets and desserts usually contain salt even if they don’t taste “salty”, as seen in the pumpkin pie example.

A diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is a common cause of kidney disease. Eating fresh foods, reading and understanding food labels, and choosing sodium-free and low-sodium products are just a few of the things you can to cut back on your salt intake. When eating at a restaurant, try to evaluate your options with sodium and other nutritional information in mind. Many restaurants, especially chains, make ingredients and nutrition facts available for consumers. These can often be found on restaurant websites or by searching the internet. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your server if you have a question about items on the menu and how much salt they contain. For more information about high blood pressure, its causes and kidney disease, click here.

This holiday season lose the salt but not the flavor. Check out the Kidney Kitchen for delicious recipes that are low in sodium, taste delicious and are good for your kidneys.

Reference: USDA website nutrient data base (
Bread stuffing (1/2 cup serving)
(bread, dry mix, prepared)
Calories 177, Protein 3.2g, Fat 8.6, Carbohydrate 21.7g, Sodium 524 mg, Phosphorus 42 mg, Potassium 74 mg

Mashed potatoes (1/2 cup serving)
(home-prepared, whole milk and butter added)
Calories 119, Protein 1.96g, Fat 4.43g, Carbohydrate 17.65g, Sodium 333 mg, Phosphorus 47 mg, Potassium 298 mg

Pumpkin pie (1 slice/133g)
(Commercially prepared)
Calories 323, Protein 5.19g, Fat 12.97g, Carbohydrate 46.32g, Sodium 450 mg, Phosphorus 108 mg, Potassium 222 mg

Turkey breast (100 g/about 3.5 ounces)
(Pre-basted, meat and skin, cooked, roasted)
Calories 126, Protein 22.16g, Fat 3.46, Carbohydrate 0 g, Sodium 397 mg, Phosphorus 214 mg, Potassium 248 mg

Gravy (1 tablespoon)
(Canned turkey gravy, ready-to-serve)
Calories 8, Protein 0.39 g, Fat 0.31 g, Carbohydrates 0.76 g, Sodium 86 mg, Phosphorus 4 mg, Potassium 16 mg

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