The Salty 6: Favorite Foods That Can Harm Your Health
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 1500mg, or just over half a teaspoon of salt, per day — but the average person consumes more than twice that amount.
Why? Most sodium comes from processed, packaged and restaurant foods that many families rely on for convenient eating.
Experts call some of these food items “the Salty 6.”
1. Breads and rolls
Some foods that you eat several times a day, such as bread, add up to a lot of sodium even though each serving may not seem high in sodium. Check nutrition labels to find healthier varieties.
2. Cold cuts and cured meats
One 2 oz. serving, or 6 thin slices, of deli meat can contain as much as half of your daily recommended dietary sodium. Look for lower-sodium varieties of your favorite lunch meats.
A slice of pizza with several toppings can contain more than half of your daily recommended dietary sodium. Limit the cheese and add more veggies to your next slice.
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.
Sodium in one cup of canned soup can range from 100 to as much as 940 milligrams — more than half of your daily recommended intake. Check the labels to find lower sodium varieties.
A sandwich or burger from a fast food restaurant can contain more than 100 percent of your daily suggested dietary sodium. Try half a sandwich with a side salad instead.
But what’s so bad about salt and high-sodium foods?
And which health problems can a high-sodium diet cause?
High sodium makes the body hold on to more fluids (retain water) which can increase your blood pressure and cause your body to swell or puff up.
High blood pressure increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Watching the amount of salt in your diet can help prevent these chronic health issues.
People with certain health issues need to be even more careful about what they eat. Increased sodium can worsen the symptoms of heart failure patients, leading to more stays in the hospital.
How can I reduce salt in my diet?
Get the facts.
- Read the Nutrition Facts label on packages and canned food
Look for salt-free or low-salt items:
- Salt-free items should contain no more than 5mg of sodium per serving
- Low-salt items should contain no more than 140mg of sodium/serving
When dining out, ask to have your dish prepared without added salt.
- Instead of salt, Use herbs, spices, lemon juice or vinegar for tastier dishes
Learn the salt to sodium equivalent:
- 1 tsp salt = 2300 mg sodium
- ½ tsp salt = 1200 mg sodium (just under the recommended daily amount)
Discuss any dietary changes or concerns with your doctor.
Talk about your diet during the next appointment with your doctor.
Source: American Heart Association