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How much salt are you eating? Taking a closer look at 6 common foods

Eating too many salty foods can create all sorts of health problems, including high blood pressure. But did you know a lot of common foods are packed with excess sodium? It’s not just the french fries and potato chips you need to be careful with.

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are working together to increase awareness of sodium and the “Salty Six” – common foods that may be loaded with excess sodium that can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association is making it easy to find better options when grocery shopping and when eating away from home. Simply look for the Heart-Check; when you see it, you’ll know right away that the food or meal has been certified to meet our nutritional standards, including sodium.

An average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium a day – more than twice the 1,500 mgs recommended by the American Heart and Stroke associations. That’s in large part because of our food supply; more than 75 percent of our sodium consumption comes from processed and 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,” said Linda Van Horn, a research nutritionist at Northwestern University.

Here’s a quick look at the Salty Six, the top sources for sodium in today’s diet:

1. Breads and rolls: It can be deceiving because a lot of bread doesn’t even taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 mg 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 mgs of sodium.

2. Cold cuts and cured meats: Deli or prepackaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 mgs of sodium. It’s added to most cooked meats so they don’t spoil after a few days.

3. Pizza: 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 mg and two can send you over the daily recommendation.

4. Poultry: 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 mgs of sodium.

5. Soup: 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 mg. And remember, soup cans typically contain more than one serving.

6. 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 mgs of sodium in one sitting.

Sodium doesn’t just affect your heart health, but also your physical appearance. Excess sodium consumption may make your face feel puffy, give you bags under your eyes, increase swelling in your fingers and make your jeans feel tighter.

As you gear up for your next grocery store run or ordering from the menu, keep the Salty Six in mind. is devoted to info on health issues from doctors, major hospitals and clinics, universities and health care agencies across the U.S.