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Here's the scoop on salty foods

By Irving Dean
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The American Heart Association, which wants to reduce the amount of sodium we consume because that would make us healthier, says it has come up with a list it’s calling the “Salty Six” — which it defines as “common foods that may be loaded with excess sodium that can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.”

I’m not supposed to talk about it until tomorrow, though. The news release from the Heart Association says it’s embargoed until midnight tonight, which means the media isn’t supposed to release the information until then.

Tomorrow is National Eating Healthy Day, which may be one reason for the embargo. I’m thinking they’re also fearful if it gets released now it will get lost in the blitz of election news.

But I also think this information is too important to sit on. So I did a little sleuthing and discovered that the “Salty Six” already are in the public domain. All one has to do is go the the Heart Association’s website, which is HERE.

You’ll find this listing of the six top sources of sodium in today’s diet. The commentary that follows each item is from the Heart Association.

• 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? Well, it depends on how you prepare it. 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.”

• 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.”

The website quotes Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., a research nutritionist at Northwestern University and a Heart Association volunteer: “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 at least five or 10 times more sodium than they need.”

 
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