Sodium Secrets: Salt Is Hidden In Foods You Wouldn’t Expect

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SPRINGDALE (KFSM)—Sodium is lurking in virtually everything we eat, which can lead to serious medical problems if we consume too much.

Sodium content probably isn’t on most people’s minds at mealtime, but it probably should be. Most Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. That’s more than double the American Heart Association’s recommended 1,500 milligrams a day.

A Center for Disease Control study found more than three quarters of the sodium in our diets comes from processed and restaurant food.

This causes problems because consuming too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and puts people at risk for heart attacks and stroke, said Ashley Meek, registered dietitian.

“Watch out for deli meats; watch out for cereals and breads," Meek said. "A lot of those have a lot of hidden sodium."

Hidden sodium also comes into play when dining out. Here are just a few of the high sodium offenders:

  • Olive Garden’s Tour of Italy -- 3,250 mg
  • Red Lobster’s Crab Linguini Alfredo -- 4,090 mg
  • Applebee’s Salsa Verde Beef Nachos -- 6,120 mg

“A lot of restaurants have food that already comes prepared, so the sodium is already in there,” Meek said. "So they do that when the food is manufactured."

While the sodium content in popular chain restaurants is shocking, it is possible to eat out and make more healthful choices.

The Food and Drug Administration requires all chain restaurants with more than 20 locations to provide customers with nutritional information. This can help consumers make more informed choices when eating out.

When you're making your food choices, never be afraid to ask.

Whole Foods says that all of their prepared foods are made with zero preservatives -- but that doesn't guarantee that the foods are salt-free.

“We do have salt and spices in some of our dishes" said Allison Chilcote, Whole Foods marketing team leader. “If you are looking for the really simple, minimal approach to cooking, the ‘Health Starts Here’ option is great for that. Any of our team members can point you in the direction of what those foods would look like.”

Meek said the biggest thing is just healthy eating overall; it's all about moderation. It's important to get the five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, and to watch out for higher sodium foods like diet soda and cheese.

"So choosing lower sodium foods and focusing on getting your fruits and vegetables in every day," she said.