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The salt that you sprinkle onto food is easy to measure. Unfortunately, it may be just a fraction of the total salt in your daily diet.

When you look at your food, some ingredients are easy to see. For example, there is obviously milk in your cereal, cheese on your pizza and peanut butter on your toast.

But your meals are also filled with ingredients you can’t see. And you might be surprised to learn just how much those hidden items affect your health.

Salt is a perfect example of an ingredient that you might not notice, even when you eat a lot of it.

Sometimes, salt is obvious. You can see it on pretzels. You can taste it on french fries. And you can sprinkle it on green beans, straight from the shaker.

But it’s the salt we can’t see that concerns scientists most. For decades, doctors have warned patients that too much salt can be bad for their hearts. Still, most Americans continue to eat way too much salt, even when they try to avoid the salt shaker.

That’s because more than 75 percent of the salt we eat is hidden in restaurant meals, fast food and processed foods, such as spaghetti sauce from a jar, canned soup and frozen pizza. Often, you can’t even taste that the salt is there.

Heart trouble has long been considered a grown-up problem, and parents haven’t worried too much about the salt their kids eat. But new research suggests that salt is starting to affect kids — in their hearts, kidneys and waistlines.

Loading up on salt-filled potato chips, hot dogs and canned tuna today could also set young people up for even more health problems down the road.
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