Consuming too much salt can result in a number of health problems, including high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. Usually, it is the most common foods which contain a huge amount of sodium, not just the foods we consider to be “bad”. The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently released a list of 6 salty foods to be aware of.

A study published in February said that most U.S adults are consuming too much sodium.

The “Salty Six”, as the American Heart Association is calling them, are extremely common everyday foods that people do not realize are packed with a high amount of sodium, which severely increases a person’s risk of developing a stroke or heart problems. Now, the AHA is revealing easy ways to lower salt consumption, even on the go. While shopping, consumers can look for the Heart-Check Mark to know which foods have been approved by the AHA as having a healthy amount of sodium.

In the U.S., salt consumption is a major issue. A new study by AHA and ASA revealed that the average American has a daily salt intake level of around 3,400 milligrams, while the recommended amount is 1,500 milligrams. This is mostly due to processed and restaurant foods which account for 75% of our salt consumption.

Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., R.D., a research nutritionalist at Northwestern University and a volunteer for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, said:

wow “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. 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.”

The 6 following foods are the main sources of sodium in society’s diet today:

  • Bread and rolls – Bread is packed with carbohydrates and calories, but according to the new report, it is also high in salt, even though it does not taste salty. One piece of bread can have more than 230 milligrams of sodium, which accounts for 15% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Cold cuts and cured meats – Although cold cuts are normally seen as a healthy way to go, deli meat and pre-packaged turkey can hold up to 1,050 milligrams of sodium, and it is added to most cooked meats to keep them from spoiling.
  • Pizza – Pizza contains fat, calories and cholesterol, but according to the report, it also contains high levels of sodium, around 760 milligrams per slice.
  • Poultry – The common belief is that chicken is not bad for you. However, sodium levels found in poultry are always different, depending on how it is prepared. The best option is to stick with grilled, lean, skinless chicken, even though these kinds still have added sodium.
  • Soup – Although soup is not considered unhealthy, especially because Moms use it as a remedy when children are sick, it can contain up to 940 milligrams per serving.
  • Sandwiches – Whether it be a hamburger, tuna sandwich, or a grilled cheese, the bread of a sandwich and cured meats both contain sodium, and when ketchup or mustard is added to the mix, a sandwich could have as much as 1,500 milligrams of sodium.

The recent report noted that every restaurant and brand prepares foods differently, therefore, the same food can contain very different levels of sodium. Looking for the check mark by the AHA can help to differentiate between the healthy and not-so-healthy options.

Excess salt can hurt physical appearance, as well as heart health. Too much sodium can result in puffiness of the face, eye bags, and swelling of the fingers. According to a survey by AHA, 75% of people reported feeling their pants tighter after consuming an excess amount of salt.

Written by Christine Kearney