WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Whether you're out to dinner or eating in your own kitchen, salt is a staple seasoning for many people. But too much sodium has been linked to many health issues and early deaths -- which is why some doctors say it's better to pass on passing the salt.
"I love salt. It makes the flavor of your food. Intensifies the flavor of your food when you're cooking with it," said Ralph Liebro of West Springfield.
For a lot of people the table isn't fully set for a meal without the salt shaker-- the average American consumes more than twice the daily recommendation of sodium: 1,500 milligrams. It might mean good things for your taste buds, but it's bad news for your health.
Harvard researchers say more than 2 million people died in 2010 because of too much salt in their diets. And almost half of those deaths were people under the age of 70. And you might be surprised to know where sodium is hiding in your diet.
The American Heart Association released their so-called 'salty six' foods to watch out for.
Breads and rolls top the list, followed by cold cuts, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches.
Some of those foods don't even taste all that salty, but there's still plenty of sodium packed in just a single serving.
"It doesn't seem to scare a lot of people. My blood pressure is fine. My friends they grab that salt shaker every time we go to eat. It's a tough thing. It's addictive like smoking cigarettes," said Liebro.
Most restaurant meals will bring you close to or even past the daily recommended limit of sodium. One West Springfield woman told 22News she was shocked to learn some of the foods that made the 'salty six' list.
"No, I wouldn't expect it. I guess you have to be really careful. Read all the labels if you're really worried about salt," said Neita Marshman of West Springfield.
Doctors analyzed more than 200 studies looking at adult sodium intake and its effect on blood pressure and heart disease.
42-percent of the sodium-related deaths were caused by heart attacks; and 41-percent of them by stroke.