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Beware: Hidden fast-food salt traps

Busy Fast Food Restaurant

 (Reuters)

French Fries beat Freedom Fries when it comes to sodium. U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In the study, researchers examined the sodium content of more than 2,000 menu items from the world’s six largest fast-food chains: Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Subway.

While government-led public health campaigns and legislation efforts have reduced sodium levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary.

Related: America’s 30 Saltiest Dishes

So where’s the salt? The next time you pull through the drive-thru, watch out for these 5 sneaky fast-food traps:

Condiments

One McDonald’s ketchup packet—the tiny ones that can coat about three fries—packs 110 mg of sodium. That’s about as much as an order of salty spuds.

Low-Fat Foods

Many low-fat foods rely on salt—and lots of it—for their flavor. One packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15 calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has 510 mg sodium—about 1.5 times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. (Feel like you’re having too much of a good thing? You probably are with these 8 Saltiest Fast-Food Options.)

Breads

Bread is the No. 1 source of sodium consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway—just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing—has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon.

Salads

Leafy greens play perfect host to an array of sodium-stuffed toppings and dressings. Cheeses, croutons, tortilla strips, and meats (especially of the crispy or cured variety) are especially salty. A Burger King Chicken BLT Garden Fresh Salad, for instance, has 50 percent more sodium than a medium order of onion rings. (Make sure you check out these 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper.)

Desserts

Premade pies, pastries, and cinnamon-covered breadsticks might taste sweet, but chances are they are still salty with preservatives. Two little Pizza Hut Hershey’s Chocolate Dunkers squares with chocolate sauce have about 285 mg of the salty stuff—about as much as two Pizza Hut wings.

More from Men’s Health:
The Truth About Calories

The 10 Saltiest Foods

The 7 Rules of Healthy Fast Food