Heart attacks and strokes on the menu

May 11, 2009 3:15:39 PM PDT
A new study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest raises alarms about how much salt goes onto the dinner plate at restaurant chains.Researchers looked into 17 different chains and found some of the meals provided four times the amount of salt that is considered safe to eat in a single sitting.

Researchers identified the 10 saltiest meals found in some of the most popular restaurants. Consumers may be eating potentially dangerous levels of sodium.

Among them were:

  • Chili's buffalo chicken fajitas with a soda - 6,916 milligrams of sodium. That's three whole teaspoons of table salt.

  • Denny's double cheeseburger with onion rings, rice pilaf and tomato juice - 6,360 milligrams of sodium, the equivalent of 2.7 teaspoons of salt.

    CSPI also had a list of the saltiest kids meals.

  • Red Lobster's chicken fingers, with a biscuit, fries and lemonade has 2,430 milligrams of sodium. That's two days worth of recommended sodium for kids in one meal.

  • KFC'S popcorn chicken with macaroni cheese, Teddy Grahams and 2 percent milk has 2,005 milligrams of sodium.

    "Who knows how many Americans have been pushed prematurely into their graves thanks to sodium levels like those found in Olive Garden, Chili's, and Red Lobster?" CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said. "These chains are sabotaging the food supply. They should cut back and give consumers the freedom to decide for themselves how much salt they want."

    When there is too much sodium in the diet, it actually increases blood volume. It forces the heart to work harder, increasing pressure on arteries. That can lead not only to high blood pressure, but also heart failure, kidney disease or stroke.

    "If you lowered the sodium levels of food in the American diet by 25 percent," Dr. Jacobson said, "it would save $20 billion a year in medical costs."

    CLICK HERE to see the full CSPI list.


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