Monday, November 12, 2012

American Heart Association Warns; Beware of the “Salty Six”

The American Heart Association (AHA) is warning all people to be more aware of the “salty six.”

The “salty six” are common foods in Americans’ diets that are full of excess sodium.  The list includes some little known suspects, with chips not making the cut.

"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," Dr. Linda Van Horn, a research nutritionist at Northwestern University who volunteers at the AHA, said in a press release. "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 current U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that people consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.  The American Heart Association recommends an even lower amount of 1,500 milligrams per day.  A recent survey done by the AHA found that most Americans are consuming an average of 3,400 milligrams each day and most of this is from processed and restaurant foods.

This could potentially raise blood pressure and increase the risk for stroke and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The list includes:

1.       Bread and rolls

·         The AHA says that bread can be deceiving because it doesn’t taste salty but just one piece can contain as much as 230 milligrams of sodium, about 15% of the recommended amount. This can add up quickly throughout the day, especially if people are consuming sandwiches.

2.       Cold cuts and cured meat

3.       Pizza

·         Fat and calories might be two the biggest worries when it come to this food, but one slice of pizza might contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium, and eating two slices would put you over the daily AHA recommendation.

4.       Poultry

·         This meat may contain a wide range of sodium depending on the processing and preparation.  The AHA warns that even grilled, lean chicken may still contain added sodium solutions.  Bread chicken nuggets are also a major culprit: a 3 ounces serving may contain up to 600 milligrams of sodium.

5.       Soup

·         With the weather getting colder, many are looking to the soup to warm up and find comfort.  The AHA cautions those who are going to eat soup to make sure to look at the nutrition label before choosing, as soups can be laden with up to 940 milligrams of sodium.

6.       Sandwiches

·         The “salty six” list already includes bread and cured meats so it should not be surprising that other sandwiches, from burgers to subs, also make the list. The AHA says that adding condiments to the sandwich, including ketchup, mustard or dressing, can easily put the sandwich over 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one sitting.