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02.01.11

30 Saltiest Dishes

As new guidelines urge reducing salt intake, The Daily Beast measures which favorite menu items—from Applebee's fajitas to Weight Watchers' chicken—double as sodium bombs.

The new dietary guidelines released by the USDA this week are another reminder of what has become a consistent cry of nutritionists and doctors for years: Americans need to improve their diet. Included in the new recommendations, in addition to avoiding oversize portions and sugary drinks, was a new cap on salt intake.

Most Americans are advised to consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but for adults older than 51, African Americans, and individuals with a history of hypertension and diabetes, the new limit is just 1,500 milligrams a day. That’s about the same amount of sodium found in 12 pretzels rods, two cans of chicken noodle soup, or a Big Mac and large fries from McDonald’s.

Gallery: 30 Biggest Sodium Bombs

In terms of salt, a plain hamburger from the nearest fast-food joint is almost healthy when compared to some of the options at chain restaurants. The most sobering issue is that many of the meals that harbor the most sodium are the unexpected options. Of course that hamburger piled high with bacon and onion rings or that plate of fries smothered in chili and cheese is loaded with salt, but what about seafood pasta, which turns up several times among our ranks?

One notable inclusion on our list is Applebee’s Weight Watchers Chipotle Lime Chicken. With just 500 calories, the option is listed as a healthy option for dieters, but it’s packed with as much sodium as 10 McDonald’s hamburgers. Where does it rank? Click here.