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Nov. 7, 2012 -- It’s not always the potato chips’ or the salt shaker’s fault. Most Americans get the bulk of their daily salt overload from everyday foods loaded with excess sodium.

A new report from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association warns of surprisingly high sodium levels in the “salty six” common foods, including bread, cold cuts, pizza, and chicken.

Researchers say the average American takes in about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, more than twice the AHA's recommended limit of 1,500 mg.

But little of that excess salt comes from the salt shaker. Experts say more than 75% of people’s salt comes from eating processed or restaurant foods.

“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,” says Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, a research nutritionist at Northwestern University and an American Heart Association spokeswoman.

Eating too much salt contributes to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also affect a person’s physical appearance, causing puffiness, swelling, and bags under the eyes.

Hidden Salt in ‘Salty Six’

In conjunction with today’s National Healthy Eating Day, the AHA is highlighting the dangers of high sodium levels in common foods.

Researchers say the following “salty six” foods are the top sources for sodium in today’s diets:

1. Bread and rolls - One piece of bread can have as much as 230 mg of sodium. That’s 15% of the recommended daily amount. Although each serving may not sound like much, it can quickly add up throughout the day, with toast at breakfast, a sandwich at lunch, and a roll at dinner, etc.

2. Cold cuts and cured meats - Deli or pre-packaged turkey can have as much as 1,050 mg of sodium. It’s added to most cooked and processed meats to reduce spoilage.

3. Pizza - One slice can have up to 760 mg of sodium. That means two slices accounts for a day’s worth of salt.

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