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One Major Side Effect of Eating Pretzels, Says Science

Keep this in mind the next time you reach for this classic salty snack.

There's nothing quite like dipping a crunchy pretzel into a side of hummus or ranch. When you're craving something salty in the afternoon, pretzels can be a delicious treat. But if you're not careful, you could easily exceed your daily sodium intake, which would be considered the one major side effect of eating pretzels.

Yes, pretzels are delicious, but they don't offer a ton of substantial nutritional value to your body. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 10 pretzel "twists" contain 228 calories, 48 grams of carbs, and a whopping 760 milligrams of sodium. Plus, with such a low dietary fiber content (less than 2 grams) your body won't feel full and satisfied after munching on pretzels as a snack. And who only eats 10 pretzels, anyway?

First, let's look at the sodium content. 760 milligrams of sodium is over 33% of the recommended 2,300 milligrams of sodium you should have in a day, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion points out that restaurant meals and processed foods (like pretzels) tend to be the biggest culprits of higher sodium intake—accounting for more than 70%. (Related: these are the 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet)

Overdoing it on sodium every day may have negative consequences. The average American consumes at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt a day, which is around 3,400 milligrams, according to Harvard Health. Too much sodium could become a problem for your kidneys. When you consume more sodium, your blood volume increases, which can be harder on your heart and your blood vessels and later cause issues like high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Does this mean you have to cut out pretzels for good? Of course not! Even though pretzels tend to be high in sodium and low in dietary fiber, you can still enjoy a serving of pretzels as a snack if you pair them with something that's filling. Remember that side of ranch or hummus? Both of these dips are a great way to make your snack even more filling. Ranch dip is typically made from a dairy product (usually sour cream or Greek yogurt), which has fat and protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Hummus comes from chickpeas, which are a great plant-based source of protein and dietary fiber.

But don't stop at pretzels once you have the dip! Add in one of your favorite vegetables for dipping to make the volume of your snack even bigger. Bell pepper slices, carrot sticks, celery, and cucumber slices are all great low-calorie options.

Finally, if you know you're going to enjoy pretzels as a snack, be more cognizant of your sodium intake throughout the day. Choose low-sodium options for your other meals, and be sure to take a mental note of these 25 Foods High in Sodium You Should Watch Out For.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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