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December 10, 2015

You already know that eating out can be a minefield of too-large portions, deceptive marketing (we see you, 1,000-calorie salads) and the temptation of fried appetizers and rich desserts. Being the savvy diner that you are, you already have strategies for dealing with all of the above.

But the sneaky monster of next-day bloat can be harder to fight. Why? It comes from the high sodium count in many restaurant dishes, which can be harder to sleuth out just from a menu description. It’s enough of an issue that New York City now requires chains to put a little salt shaker on menus next to dishes with more than 2,300mg sodium. (Just to put it into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500mg sodium for the average person for the entire day.)

For those who live outside NYC, it’s a good idea to check your favorite eatery’s online menu before your visit not only for fat and calories, but also for sodium.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Add Flavor With Less Salt

In the meantime, we dug into the menus at some of the nation’s most popular chains and found some shocking salt bombs to be avoided. We didn’t choose the biggest sodium offenders; instead, we sussed out seemingly innocuous menu items and found the scariest dishes among them.

Olive Garden 

Grilled chicken flatbread, 2110mg sodium

Photo: Olive Garden

Panera Bread

All Natural Turkey Chili Bread Bowl, 2,070mg

Photo: Panera Bread

TGI Friday’s 

Turkey Burger, 2760mg

Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr

P.F. Chang’s

Ma Po Tofu, 3,780mg

Photo: PF Chang's

California Pizza Kitchen 

Roasted Artichoke and Spinach Crispy Thin-Crust Pizza with Chicken, 2,850mg

Photo: Larry/Flickr

Chili’s 

Margarita Grilled Chicken, 2,450mg

Photo: chapstickaddict/Flickr

IHOP

Original Buttermilk Pancakes, 2,280mg

Photo: IHOP

Applebee’s

Grilled Shrimp ‘N Spinach Salad, 2,990mg

Photo: Applebees

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