Shedding light on the need for reducing sodium in restaurant foods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a report From Menu To Mouth: Opportunities For Sodium Reduction In Restaurants.
With Americans eating out at fast-food or dine-in restaurants four or five times a week, it is estimated that at least one of those meals may contain more than a days recommended amount of sodium. The CDCs concern is that too much sodium can cause high blood pressure - one of the leading causes of stroke and heart disease.
Foods from fast-food restaurants, on average, contain 1,848 milligrams of sodium per 1,000 calories. Foods from dine-in restaurants contain 2,090 milligrams of sodium per 1,000 calories. The sodium limit suggested by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines is less than 2,300 milligrams a day.
The report suggests several ways restaurants and health departments have come up with for lower-sodium choices:
- Restaurants clearly post nutrition information including sodium content at the order counter and on menus or offer lower-sodium items at lower cost.
- Restaurants and health departments explain to service staff how to prepare lower sodium foods and why lower sodium foods are healthier.
- Health department dieticians help restaurants analyze the sodium content of their foods and recommend lower-sodium choices.
Sodium Reduction Success
Youll also find in the report an example of how Philadelphia has incorporated the sodium reduction plan. The health department in Philadelphia worked with 206 restaurants to create the Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative. The participating restaurants menus were evaluated for sodium content and then they began choosing lower-sodium ingredients and creating lower-sodium recipes. Nine months later two popular dishes offered by 20 of the restaurants were analyzed and showed that sodium was reduced by 20 percent.
The story in Philadelphia shows what can be done, says CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Its not about giving up the food you love, but providing lower-sodium options that taste great. The bottom line is that its both possible and life-saving to reduce sodium, and this can be done by reducing, replacing and reformulating. When restaurants rethink how they prepare food and the ingredients they choose to use, healthier options become routine for customers. As always, we recommend you use natural sea salt instead of refined table salt whenever possible, as sea salt has not been stripped of its nutritional integrity.
Learn more about the benefits of sea salt and the sodium levels in your medicines.