Protect Your Heart: Beware The ‘Salty Six’

By  //  November 14, 2012

Healthcare Alert

(VIDEO By TakeCommandToday)

Consuming too much dietary sodium contributes to the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The results of a recently released American Heart Association (AHA) survey suggest that American consumers are aware that a limited amount of sodium should be consumed daily, but the exact amount is not well understood.  In fact, the study found that the average American intakes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, which is well above the recommended 1,500 milligram limit.

Shop wisely. Better information related to sodium content in food and point of consumption guidance are two ways to help consumers make better dietary decisions.

Shop Wisely, Check Sodium Content

The AHA says that excess salt intake is mostly due to processed and restaurant foods, which account for about 75% of our salt consumption. In the AHA study, Northwestern University research nutritionist Linda Van Horn says, “Excess sodium in our diets has less to do with what we’re adding to our food and more to do with what’s already in the food,” and adds, “The average individual is getting more than double the amount of sodium that they need, but there are ways to improve their sodium intake under their control.”

Shop wisely. Better information related to sodium content in food and point of consumption guidance are two ways to help consumers make better dietary decisions. In an effort to boost awareness and healthy eating, the AHA compiled a list of six common foods that consumers may not realize contain high quantities of salt.

The ‘Salty Six’

Taken directly from the AHA report, the “salty six” foods that can quickly contribute to a sodium overload include:

  • Breads and rolls. We all know breads and rolls add carbohydrates and calories, but salt, too? It can be deceiving because a lot of bread doesn’t even taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. That’s about 15 percent of the recommended amount from only one slice, and it adds up quickly. Have two sandwiches in one day? The bread alone could put you close to  1,000 milligrams of sodium.
  • Cold cuts and cured meats. Even foods that would otherwise be considered healthy may have high levels of sodium. Deli or pre-packaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium.  It’s added to most cooked meats so they don’t spoil after a few days.
  • Pizza. OK, everybody knows pizza’s not exactly a health food, because of cholesterol, fat and calories. But pizza’s plenty salty, too. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium, so two can send you over the daily recommendation.
  • Poultry. Surely chicken can’t be bad for you, right?  Sodium levels in poultry can vary based on preparation methods.  You will find a wide range of sodium in poultry products, so it is important to choose wisely.  Reasonable portions of lean, skinless, grilled chicken are ok but may still contain an added sodium solution. And when you start serving up the chicken nuggets, the sodium also adds up. Just 3 ounces of frozen and breaded nuggets can add nearly 600 milligrams of sodium.
  • Soup. This is another one of those foods that seems perfectly healthy. It can’t be bad if Mom gave it to you for the sniffles, right? But when you take a look at the nutrition label it’s easy to see how too much soup can quickly turn into a sodium overload. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 milligrams of sodium.  And remember that soup cans typically contain more than one serving.
  • Sandwiches. This covers everything from grilled cheese to hamburgers. We already know that breads and cured meats may be heavy on the sodium. Add them together, then add a little ketchup or mustard and you can easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one sitting.
(Image courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Be mindful that different brands and restaurant preparation of the same foods may have different sodium levels.  The AHA Heart-Check mark, whether in the grocery store or restaurant, helps shoppers see through the clutter on grocery store shelves to identify foods that help them build a heart-healthy diet.