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Future Health

When it comes to salt, less is best

November 12, 2013 

The amount of salt in everyday foods is staggering.
The average American eats more than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day, about twice the daily recommendation from the American Heart Association. Health professionals say they find persuading people to lower their salt intake the one of the most difficult tasks they face, in part because salt makes food taste better. That's one of the reasons so much salt is found in packaged and prepared foods. As people eat out more and eat on the go, they unintentionally increase their salt intake. In fact, estimates are that 77 percent of our salt intake is from prepared foods.
This is important because the amount of sodium in our diets is linked to higher risks for heart disease and high blood pressure, among other health dangers.
Of those foods that "sneak" salt into our diets, among the worst are bread, cold cuts, pizza, chicken, soup, and sandwiches. To take just one example where you might not think salt would be hidden, think about bread. Each slice in most packaged bread includes 100-200 milligrams of sodium. For a sandwich, make that 200-400.  Whole grain pita pockets and English muffins have less, about 150 milligrams.
For cold cuts, the amount you put in a sandwich amounts to half of the recommended daily sodium intake. For pizza, the salt is highest in tomato sauce, cheese, and meat toppings. For chicken, even when it seems fresh it often has been injected with broth, which tends to be high in sodium, or a sodium-based preservative with about 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. The same goes for soup.
As a general rule: the fresher the food, the more you make at home, the lower the salt content. 
Click here to take a look at the CDC's recommendations for daily sodium intake