The American Heart Association (AHA) last week identified six foods that are often loaded with excess sodium and could increase an individual's risk for heart disease and stroke.
According to AHA, excess salt consumption is a major health issue that significantly increases cardiovascular risks, as well as puffiness of the face, eye bags, and swelling. A recent AHA study found that the average American intakes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, well above the recommended 1,500 milligram limit.
Excess salt intake is mostly due to processed and restaurant foods, which account for about 75% of our salt consumption, AHA 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," says Northwestern University research nutritionist Linda Van Horn, adding, "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."
In an effort to boost awareness and healthy eating, AHA compiled a list of common foods that consumers may not realize contain high quantities of salt.
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The "salty six" foods that can quickly contribute to a sodium overload include:
- Breads and rolls: Although many breads do not taste salty, one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium.
- Cold cuts, cured meats: Deli and pre-packaged meats can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium, and sodium is added to most cooked meats to prevent spoilage.
- Pizza: One slice of pizza can contain as much as 760 milligrams of sodium; just two slices will reach the recommended daily salt limit.
- Poultry: Sodium levels in chicken vary based on how it’s prepared. Just three ounces of frozen breaded chicken nuggets can have 600 milligrams of sodium, while grilled and skinless preparations may have much less.
- Soup: One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 milligrams of sodium.
- Sandwiches: This food item combines two of the salty six, cold cuts and bread, with sodium-rich condiments, such as ketchup and mustard. Altogether, a single sandwich can easily surpass the recommended daily sodium limit.
To help consumers find healthy, low sodium foods, AHA recommends looking for the Heart-Check Mark, which indicates that the food or meal has been certified to meet AHA’s nutritional standards (AHA release, 11/6; Kearney, Medical News Today, 11/8; New York Daily News, 11/8).