What can hide your hard-won, chiseled abs behind a buffer of bloat; give you some busted-looking bags beneath your eyes; and cause your fingers to swell up like balloons?
The answer is sodium, and—believe it or not—the average American consumes more than double the American Heart Association’s daily recommendation of 1,500mg. Even scarier than those vanity-challenging side effects, though, is the fact that all that excess salt will also up your blood pressure, putting an added burden on your poor old heart. In fact, a new study presented at the AHA’s annual meeting last week found that excessive salt intake contributed to a whopping 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010 alone—and 40% of those were premature.
Yes, men of America, it’s time to get serious about wiping sodium from your diet. But why is that so hard? Turns out it’s not just salty chips and greasy fries that are problematic—it’s a whole host of foods you likely eat every day that seem, well, somewhat nutritious. “Things labeled healthy may be in one regard, such as high in protein or low in sugar,” says Dr. Martha Gulati, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “But those same foods may still be excessively high in sodium.”
Check out these 9 salt shockers, which will surely get you checking labels at the grocery store.