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Are You Eating the Saltiest Foods in America?

Lizard King

Lizard King

Staff Member
Sep 9, 2010
By Leah Zerbe,
Thu, Mar 31, 2011

Last month, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its new dietary guidelines, you could almost hear a simultaneous yawn across America. Many dieticians criticized its "more-of-the-same" recommendations that are clearly not working to keep our nation's weight and health in check.

There was one point in the guidelines, however, that sparked universal approval: They took an ax to the maximum amount of salt we should eat on a daily basis. And a low-salt diet is now recommended for everyone, not just the overweight or people living with chronic health issues. "Though salt often gets ignored by dieters and healthy eaters, it's actually one of the deadliest ingredients in the food supply," explains Heather Jones, RD, author of The Salt Solution. "Most people are seriously overdosing on sodium."

New study: U.S. government says high sodium content in foods is unsafe.

The details: Americans adults, on average, take in nearly 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, mostly through salty food, but it sneaks in through beverages and condiments, too. The new guidelines stipulate that adults in general should toe the line and eat no more than 2,300 mg of salt a day—about one teaspoon's worth. Anyone 51 or older and/or living with high blood pressure, as well as all African American adults, is encouraged to limit sodium intake to just 1,500 mg.

It's well known that eating too much salt is linked to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. But more and more research is finding that a high-salt diet causes other serious and life-threatening diseases, including these three:

See the new item added to medically-approved list of blood pressure-lowering foods.

1. Cancer A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 80,000 Japanese adults and found that excess salt is linked to a 15-percent higher risk of developing cancer.

2. Osteoporosis High-salt diets also effect bone health, explains Jones. "High-salt diets have been shown to increase calcium loss," she explains. "When your bones lose calcium, they become weak. Over time, this leads to osteoporosis."

Jones points out that for every 2,300 mg of sodium ingested, on average, you excrete about 20 to 60 more milligrams of calcium.

3. Dementia Other studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia. Since too much salt can send blood pressure skyrocketing, cutting out excess sodium could help save your brain, too. "Researchers have shown that treating hypertension can reduce dementia due to Alzheimer's disease by half," says Jones. "Maybe your forgetfulness isn't due to getting older—it could be caused by how much salt you eat!"

What it means: Americans are addicted to salt. In fact, Jones notes that brain scans show that consuming it causes the brain to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center, as it does when you eat fat and sugar. "That makes them highly additive, like nicotine and cocaine," Jones notes. But it is possible to beat the addiction, and that act can have wide-ranging, positive effects on your health. Much of the excess salt in our diet comes from processed and packaged grocery-store food, and restaurant and fast-food menu options (remember the Denny's lawsuit, when the restaurant chain was sued over the 2,600 mg of sodium in its turkey sandwiches, served with fries?). Some of it lurks in healthy vegetables that have been canned, or even "healthy" sandwich ingredients—things we turn to when we need to make dinner on the fly. "As our lives have become increasingly more hectic and fast-paced, salty processed and fast foods have become staples," says Jones.

One way to make strides in shrinking your salt intake is to target the worst offenders. Here's a list of some of the saltiest.

Top 10 Seriously Salty Foods in the Grocery Store (sodium content varies among brands)

1. Frozen TV dinners, 800 to 2,000-plus milligrams (mg)

2. Frozen pizza, 2,645 mg

3. Pretzel rods, 1,350 mg

4. Canned chili, 1040 mg

5. Lunch meat, 150 mg per slice

6. Canned soup, 870 mg

7. Packaged macaroni and cheese, 533 mg

8. Flour tortilla, 450 mg

9. Canned vegetables, 250 mg

10. Breakfast cereal, 175 mg

5 low-salt family-favorite dinner recipes.

Top 10 Seriously Salty Restaurant Foods

1. Romano's Macaroni Grill Spaghetti e Meatballs with Bolognese, 3,040 mg

2. Quiznos Classic Italian Large Sub, 3,420 mg

3. Ruby Tuesday Shrimp Carbonara Pasta Classic, 3,766 mg

4. IHOP Country Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs with Sausage Gravy, 4,050 mg

5. California Pizza Kitchen Jamaican Jerk Pizza 4,236 mg

6. Red Lobster Admiral's Feast, 4,300 mg

7. Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion, 5,508 mg

8. Applebee's Sizzling Skillet Shrimp Fajitas, 6,060 mg

9. Chili's Jalapeno Smokehouse Burger with Jalapeno Ranch, 6,460 mg

10. Cheesecake Factory, Factory Appetizer Favorites 6,700 mg

Once you start cutting some of the most sodium-dense foods in America out of your menu, Jones recommends focusing on eating foods rich in the minerals potassium, magnesium, and calcium to bring your body back into balance. These foods include: beet greens, spinach, yogurt, sweet potatoes, white beans, sardines, and bananas.


Apr 5, 2011
no wonder on my cheat day i feel so bloated at the end of the day!! i eat 3 or 4 of those salty grocery store foods that day


VIP Strength Advisor
Sep 15, 2010
i try to look at the labels and purchase the lowest or salt free that I can,But good post thanks
Lizard King

Lizard King

Staff Member
Sep 9, 2010
I have eaten this once and it is on every list I post as being one of the worst things you can eat, but I had to have it at least once:

9. Chili's Jalapeno Smokehouse Burger with Jalapeno Ranch, 6,460 mg

It was freaking awesome btw, lol


Sep 12, 2010
My body craves salt from time to time but I try and stay away from America's saltiest foods :D