12/03/2012 08:38 am ET

Work Your Way Around The 'Salty Six'

By Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen for

You're probably already taking steps to limit salt intake if you have high blood pressure. The truth is, if you don't have hypertension, there are nutrients that age you unnecessarily (wrinkles!), before salt (such as saturated fat and added sugar). We've even brought up the debate about whether a very low-sodium diet could be detrimental to health to individuals who did not have high blood pressure.

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Still, overconsumption of sodium is more common than getting too little salt. We are supposed to get less than 1,500mg a day (less than one teaspoon of table salt!). Most Americans far supercede this limit. The culprit? Sodium's in most everything you eat, and now the American Heart Association (AHA) is highlighting the top foods with excess sodium, aptly named “The Salty Six.” Before we jump into the list, here's some context. A teaspoon of straight up salt contains 2,300mg of sodium. When you look on a nutrition label, a serving's worth of sodium that's within the safe range are as follows:

  • Sodium-free = less than 5mg per serving
  • Very low sodium - 35 mg or less per serving
  • Low sodium = 140mg or less per serving

Take a look at how transforming the "Salty Six" encourages a healthier diet in general:

Transform The Salty Six
Transform The Salty Six

And keep in mind, high blood pressure and sodium affects more than your heart -- those darn wrinkles. Too much salt can decrease calcium levels in your body. So lowering your salt consumption keeps your bones stronger. Not to mention, no one looks as good with eye bags and a puffy face, the day after a salty-food fest.

One final trick to outsmart sodium: Foods with potassium dampen sodium effects and even help relax your muscles. Dark leafy greens and white beans are just brimming with potassium -- those keep you feeling and looking younger. Remember, skip the cans!