Health & Wellness

Hidden Salt, a.k.a “The Salty Six”

By Carla F. Williams | November 29, 2012

It’s no secret that sodium can play a villainous role in our health. We’ve all heard that the average American consumes far more sodium than we should, increasing our risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends fewer than 2,300 mg sodium/day for many Americans but fewer than 1,500 mg/day for people 51 and older, African-Americans, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Earlier this year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium daily. Before even picking up the salt shaker, the average American takes in about 3,300 mg sodium/day, more than twice the recommended amount for about half of Americans and 6 out of 10 adults.

Research has determined that the lion’s share of sodium isn’t coming from our salt shakers. So, where are we getting the recorded high intakes?  The American Heart Association (AHA) dug into a February 2012 CDC Vital Signs report detailing the top 10 sources of sodium in our diets which account for 44% of our sodium intake. The AHA took it from there, creating a catchy way to help us all remember which foods account for most of the hidden salts. They recently debuted these foods as “The Salty Six,” the top six sources of sodium in our diets culled from the CDC’s list of top ten salt-packers.

There’s nothing exotic about “The Salty Six.”  Instead, they’re the everyday foods that make up mainstays for many Americans. A few of these were obvious picks for high-sodium foods but some others are likely to come as a surprise – either because we don’t think of them as high sodium or because we just haven’t stopped to do the math.

The Vital Signs report reveals that the top 10 sodium -sources in our diets account for over 40% of individual sodium intake.  The most common sodium-sources in our diets are:

1. Breads and rolls

2. Cold cuts and cured meats – deli meats, bacon,

3. Pizza

4.  Poultry

5.  Soup

6. Sandwiches including cheeseburgers

7.  Cheese

8.  Pasta – mixed dishes

9.  Meat – mixed dishes

10.  Savory snacks – chips, popcorn, pretzels, and puffs

Finding out where the sodium is hidden is the first step. The next, and very critical step, is finding out how to get a handle on our intake. The article, “Strategies for Conquering ‘The Salty Six’” gives you a headstart with item-by-item sodium saving tips for keeping sodium in check while keeping these foods on your plate.

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