Salt can raise blood pressure, putting stress on the circulatory system and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. While blood pressure is determined by many factors, including genetics and environment, one of the most important factors you can control is how much salt you eat, according to Willie Lawrence, a cardiologist in Kansas City, Missouri, and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “By limiting salt intake, one can reduce their blood pressure and therefore their risk of developing heart disease or stroke,” Lawrence says. The AHA recommends limiting salt intake to 1,500 mg a day. Avoiding the saltshaker isn't enough to reach that goal. You need to know the hidden sources of sodium. Take our quiz and discover eight shocking, hidden sources of salt.
Skinny Pop popcorn (3/4 cup) OR grocery store rotisserie chicken (4 ounces)?
Answer: The chicken. “We don't necessarily think of chicken as salty but rotisserie chicken is often injected with salt water to make the chicken juicy and more flavorful,” says Danielle Allen, a registered dietitian in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. “The high salt content also helps preserve the meat.” As a result, rotisserie chicken has around 320 mg of sodium compared with 75 mg for the popcorn. “Baking a chicken breast at home with oil, herbs and seasonings other than salt can cut your sodium by more than 200 milligrams,” she says. Just avoid buying chicken that's been “enhanced” with broth, which boosts sodium levels.
Schweppes club soda (12 ounces) OR Blue Diamond roasted salted almonds (1 ounce, about 23 almonds)?
Answer: The club soda. It contains 95 mg sodium versus 85 mg for the nuts. “The club soda contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium chloride (table salt) to enhance taste and to neutralize the acidity,” says Jennifer Glockner, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles and creator of the e-book series Smartee Plate. If you don't want to drink plain water, try sparkling water such as San Pellegrino, which has only 1 mg sodium per ounce, Glockner suggests.