The saltiest foods might not be the ones you expect (French fries? Pretzels? Flamin Hot Cheetos?), according to the American Heart Assn. The group has singled out the "Salty Six" -- common foods that may be loaded with excess sodium, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Some shockers: bread, chicken and sandwiches.
"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," Linda Van Horn, a research nutritionist at Northwestern University and an AHA volunteer, said in a press release. "The average individual is getting more than double the amount of sodium that they need."
Turn the page for salt's Most Wanted.
The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day -- more than twice the 1,500 milligrams recommended by the AMA. That's largely because we eat so much processed and restaurant foods -- the sourse of more than 75 percent of our sodium consumption. Not only is high sodium a potential threat to your health, it can make you retain water, giving you unsightly cankles and undereye bags. So if health concerns won't sway you to watch your salt intake, perhaps vanity will.
1. Bread and rolls: One piece of bread can contain as much as 230 milligrams of sodium, about 15% of the daily recommended amount. Eat a sandwich and you're up to 30%. Add a piece of toast -- 45%.
2. Cold cuts and cured meats: It's not just the bologna or the ham. 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 quickly.
3. Pizza: Pizza hits the trifecta: cholesterol, fat and sodium. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium, so two can send you over the top.
4. Poultry: Even "reasonable" portions of lean, skinless, grilled chicken may contain an added sodium solution to plump up the meat. But chicken nuggets are the worst -- just 3 ounces of frozen and breaded nuggets contain nearly 600 milligrams of sodium.
5. Soup: One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 milligrams of sodium. It may cure your cold, but give you a heart attack.
6. Sandwiches: We already know that bread and cold cuts are bad, so if you add them together, and maybe slap on some cheese and mayo, well, you are effectively screwed, sodium-wise. An innocent-looking sammie can easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium -- your entire daily allowance.
So keep an eye out for the sneaky Salty Six. On the other hand, if you want to blow up like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, you know what to do.