Seniors Take Heed: How Much Salt Are Your Eating?
Beware of ‘Salty Six’ Foods
It’s National Eating Healthy Day and American Heart
Association puts focus on salt in our diets - take the salt test at
bottom of page
Graphic from excellent Mayo Clinic
report, "Sodium: Are you getting too much?" Click to read
Nov. 7, 2012 - Eating too many salty foods can
create all sorts of health problems, including high blood pressure. But
did you know a lot of common foods are packed with excess sodium? It's
not just the french fries and potato chips you need to be careful with.
That's why on National Eating Healthy Day the American Heart
Association/American Stroke Association is increasing awareness of
sodium and the "Salty Six."
These are common foods that may be loaded with
excess sodium that can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
But the American Heart Association says it is making it easy to find
better options when grocery shopping and when eating away from home.
Simply look for the Heart-Check mark -- when you see it, you'll know
right away that the food or meal has been certified to meet our
nutritional standards, including sodium.
Sodium overload is a major health problem in the
United States. In a recent survey conducted by the American Heart
Association/American Stroke Association, American consumers understand a
small amount of sodium should be consumed daily, but the exact amount is
The average American consumes about 3,400
milligrams of sodium a day -- more than twice the 1,500 milligrams
recommended by the American Heart Association/American Stroke
Association. That's in large part because of our food supply; more than
75 percent of our sodium consumption comes from processed and restaurant
"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," said Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., R.D., a research nutritionist at
Northwestern University and an American Heart Association/American
Stroke Association volunteer.
"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." Here's a quick look at the Salty
Six, the top sources for sodium in today's diet:
● Breads and rolls. We all know breads
and rolls add carbohydrates and calories, but salt, too? It can be
deceiving because a lot of bread doesn't even taste salty, but one piece
can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. That's about 15 percent of
the recommended amount from only one slice, and it adds up quickly. Have
two sandwiches in one day? The bread alone could put you close to 1,000
milligrams of sodium.
● Cold cuts and cured meats. Even foods
that would otherwise be considered healthy may have high levels of
sodium. 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 after a few days.
● Pizza. OK, everybody knows pizza's not
exactly a health food, because of cholesterol, fat and calories. But
pizza's plenty salty, too. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of
sodium, so two can send you over the daily recommendation.
● Poultry. Surely chicken can't be bad
for you, right? 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. Reasonable portions of lean, skinless,
grilled chicken are ok but may still contain an added sodium solution.
And when you start serving up the chicken nuggets, the sodium also adds
up. Just 3 ounces of frozen and breaded nuggets can add nearly 600
milligrams of sodium.
● Soup. This is another one of those
foods that seems perfectly healthy. It can't be bad if Mom gave it to
you for the sniffles, right? But when you take a look at the nutrition
label it's easy to see how too much soup can quickly turn into a sodium
overload. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940
milligrams of sodium. And remember that soup cans typically contain more
than one serving.
Older Americans Most at Risk of High Blood from Too Much Salt
In addition to excess sodium intake, other factors also
influence blood pressure and the risk for heart disease and
stroke. These factors include
The prevalence of high blood pressure (hypertension) increases
with age and affects more than half of people aged 55–74 years
and approximately three-fourths of those aged 75 years and
Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that adults
in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per
day. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as
fruits and vegetables. However, if you are in the following
population groups, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of
sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700
mg/day) with food.
You are 51 years of age or older.
You are African American.
You have high blood pressure.
You have diabetes.
You have chronic kidney disease.
The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S.
population overall and the majority of adults. Nearly everyone
benefits from reduced sodium consumption. Eating less sodium can
help prevent, or control, high blood pressure. To learn more
about sodium in your diet,
here to CDC.
● Sandwiches. This covers everything from
grilled cheese to hamburgers. We already know that breads and cured
meats may be heavy on the sodium. Add them together, then add a little
ketchup or mustard and you can easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium
in one sitting.
Be sure to keep in mind that different brands and
restaurant preparation of the same foods may have different sodium
levels. The American Heart Association Heart-Check mark--whether in the
grocery store or restaurant helps shoppers see through the clutter on
grocery store shelves to find foods that help them build a heart-healthy
Sodium doesn't just affect your heart health, but
your physical appearance as well. Excess sodium consumption may make
your face feel puffy, give you bags under your eyes, increase swelling
in your fingers and make your jeans look, and feel, tighter.
In fact, from the same American Heart
Association/American Stroke Association consumer poll, 75 percent of
respondents stated that their pants feeling too tight is their least
favorite effect of bloating which may be associated with excess sodium
National Eating Healthy Day, Nov. 7, is devoted to
encouraging everyone to make small changes to incorporate healthier food
choices and increase awareness of the importance of good nutrition.
Celebrate National Eating Healthy Day by making a conscious effort to
eat less sodium.
As you gear up for your next grocery store run or
ordering from the menu, keep the Salty Six in mind. All you need to do
to make a heart-healthy choice is to look for our familiar red heart
with the white check.
Another helpful tool is the Nutrition Facts label
on the package and calorie labeling in restaurants, which together with
the Heart-Check mark helps you make wise choices for the foods you and
your family eat.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke
Association states it is committed to improving cardiovascular health of
the whole population as part of its 2020 impact goal. Successful sodium
reduction is just one of the contributing factors to this goal and
requires action and partnership at all levels--individuals, healthcare
providers, professional organizations, public health agencies,
governments, and industry. The association urges a renewed and intensive
focus on this critically important public health issue. The American
Heart Association/American Stroke Association is actively working toward
a population-wide reduction in sodium intake. For more information on
the association's sodium reduction efforts, visit
Table salt is made up of the elements sodium and
chlorine - the technical name for salt is sodium chloride. Your body
needs some sodium to work properly. It helps with the function of nerves
and muscles. It also helps to keep the right
balance of fluids in your
body. Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have
too much and your kidneys can't get rid it, sodium builds up in your
blood. This can lead to
high blood pressure. High
blood pressure can lead to other health problems.
Most people in the U.S. get more sodium in their
diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in
salt and sodium. Doctors recommend you eat less than 2.4 grams per day.
That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day. Reading
food labels can help you
see how much sodium is in prepared foods.
The maximum amount of salt recommended in the U.S.
The amount of salt that the average American
consumes each day:
5 teaspoons 1 teaspoon of salt = 2,000 mg.
How much salt is in 3 oz. pork chop?
How much salt is in 3 oz. of ham?
How much salt is in a fast food Deluxe Burger?
How much salt is in 20 potato chips?
How much salt is in a picnic meal_________?
1 hot dog in a bun
1 teaspoon catsup
½ cup canned baked beans
—National Agricultural Library
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