The Salty Six: Are High-Sodium Foods Increasing Your Stroke Risk?


salt_smallExcess amounts of sodium doesn’t just increase your risk of a heart attack, it can also increase your risk of a stroke. But avoiding that salt shaker may not be enough. Our expert shares six salty culprits that may be leading you to consume a higher-than-recommended amount of sodium each day.

Did you know that the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day? That’s a pretty dangerous number considering that the American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams in order to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. And the problem isn’t necessarily that you’re putting too much salt on your food, it’s that it’s already in the foods you’re eating.

“Table salt actually isn’t the biggest contributor to sodium intake,” says Stephen Compston, RD, LD, CDE, outpatient dietary educator at Renown. “It is estimated that approximately 75 percent of the salt we eat comes from processed foods and restaurants.”

To help you keep your sodium intake at a healthy level, Compston identifies “The Salty Six,” six sneaky foods that are surprisingly high in sodium.

  1. Breads, Rolls and Tortillas: Although breads and tortillas may not initially appear to be high in sodium, we often consume several servings. Make sure to keep track of your total servings to see how they add up.
  2. Deli Meat, Cured Meats and Poultry: It may surprise you that six thin slices of deli meat can add up to more than half of your daily limit, so be mindful when building those sandwiches. Also, do your best to avoid cured meats, which often means the meat has been salted. Substitute uncured, skinless meats instead.
  3. Cheese: Salt is an important addition in the cheese-making process, as it prevents bacterial growth. Unfortunately, that added salt can increase your health risks. Limit the amount of cheese you add to meals to keep your sodium content down.
  4. Pizza: Take a quick look at the first three items above and it should be no surprise as to why pizza made the list. One slice and you’ve met at least half of your daily limit. Go easy on the cheese and try adding more veggies instead of meat.
  5. Canned Soup: One cup of canned soup can be as high as nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium. When shopping for canned soup it’s important to check the label – not just on sodium content, but serving size as well. Always select low-sodium options when possible or cook your own soup at home.
  6. Sandwiches and Burgers: A sandwich or burger from your favorite restaurant can contain more than 100 percent of your daily sodium limit. When dining out, it’s best to select low-sodium options or eat a half portion to limit the amount of salt you eat.

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If some of your favorite foods are on this Salty Six list, don’t panic. Compston has some comforting advice.

“Although these foods can be high in sodium, it isn’t necessary to cut these foods out of your diet completely,” Compston says. “It’s just important to eat them in moderation and be mindful of your daily sodium intake. Look for low-sodium options, use herbs and spices instead of table salt and do your best to stay under the recommended daily limit of 1,500 milligrams.”

For more information on healthy eating habits, contact Renown Health Improvement Programs at 775-982-5073.