Top 10 Saltiest Foods in America

If it looks good, and tastes good, its gotta be too salty

Salty food may seem like the least of your worries, especially if you’re among the 40 percent of people who mindlessly shake salt on every dish. An extra dash here, a few sprinkles there–what’s the big deal?

A lot, when you consider the fact that a mere teaspoon of the stuff contains all 2,300 milligrams (mg) of your recommended daily allotment. Yet daily salt consumption is on the rise in the United States–from 2,300 mg in the 1970s to more than 3,300 mg today. And according to Monell Chemical Senses Center researchers, 77 percent of that sodium intake comes from processed-food purveyors and restaurants. Their motivation: Pile on the salt so we don’t miss natural flavors and fresh ingredients.

Why is that a problem? With ever-expanding portion sizes, supersalty foods are displacing fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium. And a 1:2 ratio of dietary salt to potassium is critical for your health. Studies show that a high-sodium, low-potassium diet is linked to a host of maladies, including high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis, and exercise-induced asthma.

To protect your heart, your bones, your muscles, and your tastebuds, we scoured takeout menus and supermarket shelves to expose the 20 saltiest foods in America. No need to take the information with a grain of salt. These dishes provide plenty.Here are the Top 10 saltiest foods:

1: The Saltiest Dish in America
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Chicken Portobello

7,300 mg sodium, 1,020 calories, 66 g fatWith three items on our top 20 list, plus a slew of dishonorable mentions, Macaroni Grill earns its title as America’s saltiest chain restaurant. But what makes this the saltiest dish in America? One word: demi-glace, a fancy French name for the viscous salt slick that blankets this disastrous dish. You would have to eat 32 cups of potassium-rich broccoli to compensate for this sodium avalanche

2: Saltiest Appetizer
Papa John’s Cheesesticks with Buffalo Sauce
# 6,700 mg sodium, 2,605 calories, 113 g fat, 296 g carbsIf you were to split this appetizer with two friends, you’d still be close to downing your daily sodium allowance before you even reach for the pizza. Each stick packs the same amount of sodium as a small slice of cheese pizza, and that’s without dipping. Your best bet? Cheese pizza.

Thin crust.

3: Saltiest Seafood Entrée
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Grilled Teriyaki Salmon
# 6,590 mg sodium, 1,230 calories, 74 g fat, 79 g carbs

Think you’re playing it smart by opting for fish? The slather of teriyaki, which is essentially highly sweetened soy sauce in concentrated form, sinks that strategy fast. The grilled halibut, topped with a fresh tomato-basil relish instead, has just a quarter of the sodium.

4: Saltiest Kids’ Meal
Cosi Kid’s Pepperoni Pizza
# 6,405 mg sodium, 1,901 calories, 93 g fat, 190 g carbs

Kids under 13 should max out at 1,900 to 2,200 mg sodium a day, according to American Heart Association. This pizza serves up nearly three times that much, plus an entire day’s worth of calories. You could feed your child 50 turkey sandwiches at Cosi for the same sodium price tag. (But stick to just one.)

5: Saltiest Mexican Entrée
Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Fajitas
# 5,690 mg sodium, 1,730 calories, 107 g fat, 143 g carbs

Here are a few offenders to choke on: fried chicken, Buffalo sauce, blue cheese, smoked bacon, ranch dressing, and sour cream. All make this the sodium equivalent of single-handedly downing three and a half baskets of Chili’s bottomless tostada chips. Add rice and beans and you’ve just ordered 3 days’ worth of sodium and an entire day of calories. If you’re salt-sensitive, avoid fajitas–any kind of fajitas–at all costs.

6: Saltiest Salad
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Chicken Florentine
# 5,460 mg sodium, 840 calories, 53 g fat

Salads are often the biggest blood-pressure boosters on the menu, since the innocent leaves play perfect host to a flurry of briny toppings and dangerous dressings. Here, salt-laden olives, capers, and Parmesan collide with Macaroni Grill’s massive portions and its cooks’ affinity for the saltshaker.

The only reasonable insalata on the menu is the Mozzarella alla Caprese: It has 450 calories and 760 mg sodium.

7: Saltiest Comfort Food
Denny’s Meat Loaf Dinner (with Mashed Potatoes and Corn)
# 5,080 mg sodium, 1,210 calories, 69 g fat, 97 g carbs

There’s nothing comforting about a dinner that carries the same sodium load as 27 strips of bacon. Trade the salty loaf for the Steakhouse Strip Dinner, which has just 460 mg sodium and 390 calories (before sides).

8: Saltiest Pizza
Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s Stuffed Crust Pizza (3 slices of the 14” large)
# 5,070 mg sodium, 1,560 calories, 87 g fat, 114 g carbs

A good rule of thumb: Never order a pizza with more than a single meat topping. Because if the calories don’t get you, the salt will. This problematic pie has six meats and 4,000 mg sodium too much.

9: Saltiest Sandwich
Quiznos Turkey Bacon Guacamole Large Sub with Cheese and Reduced-Fat Ranch Dressing
# 4,670 mg sodium, 1,120 calories, 49 g fat, 116 g carbs

First, skip the large sandwich. At Quiznos, few come in under 1,000 calories and 3,000 mg sodium. Next, abandon mozzarella for Swiss, which has a tenth of the sodium. Finally, choose one of the low-calorie subs at Quiznos–the Tuscan Turkey, or better yet, the Honey Bourbon Chicken.

10: Saltiest Bread
Dunkin’ Donuts Salt Bagel
# 4,520 mg sodium, 320 calories, 62 g carbs

This bagel is more like a giant salt-encrusted pretzel, delivering 188 percent of your recommended daily sodium intake.
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