Even if you've never had a McNugget, you could be guilty of eating a high sodium diet.
Imagine eating nothing but salt-filled McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. For 15 years. That's exactly what Stacey Irvine, a 17-year-old factory worker from England did-and it just may kill her. But before you write this story off as just plain crazy, do you know how much salt you're taking in? And what it's doing to your health?
As reported by the Daily Mail, when Stacey Irvine's mother first took her to a McDonald's restaurant 15 years ago and bought her some Chicken McNuggets, it was love at first bite. Since then, the British teen has eaten almost nothing but Chicken McNuggets.
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A diet like this not only lacks vital nutrients, it also serves up a dangerous amount of salt. A 10-piece order of Chicken McNuggets packs in 900 milligrams (mg) of sodium, more than half the sodium you should have in a single day.
A McDonald's Chicken McNuggets every now and then won't hurt you. But a 10-piece order packs in more than half the sodium you should have in a single day.
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Irvine recently collapsed at work, and was rushed to the hospital struggling to breathe. She's home now, but the amount of salt she's been eating means she'll need to clean up her diet faster than a McDonald's employee turns around an order at the drive thru window. All that salt can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, particularly as she ages.
"The food industry creates a preference for very salty foods with the high salt content of their products, then creates products to satisfy that preference, and it becomes a feedback loop," says David Katz, MD, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center.
While most people aren't surprised to hear that a high-sodium diet raises blood pressure, most Americans would be downright shocked if they knew how much salt they really eat. The US government recommends that adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, about two-thirds of a teaspoon. The average American really takes in 3,436 mg a day-more than double the recommendation.
Before you reassure yourself that you're fine-after all, you banned the salt shaker from your table long ago-it turns out the biggest culprits are processed and packaged foods. "The vast majority of salt, 80% or more, is already in processed and pre-prepared foods," says Marion Nestle, PhD, professor of nutrition at New York University.