Americans eat out at fast food or dine-in restaurants four or five times a week. Just one of those meals might contain more than an entire day’s recommended amount of sodium.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strategies for health departments and restaurants to work together to offer healthier choices for consumers who want to lower their sodium intake. The report, “From Menu to Mouth: Opportunities for Sodium Reduction in Restaurants,” is published in today’s issue of CDC’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.
On average, foods from fast food and restaurants contain 1,848 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories and foods from dine-in restaurants contain 2,090 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories.
It is recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend the general population limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke.
“The bottom line is that it’s both possible and life-saving to reduce sodium, and this can be done by reducing, replacing and reformulating,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “When restaurants rethink how they prepare food and the ingredients they choose to use, healthier options become routine for customers.”
The report also features examples of sodium reduction successes in the food industry.
In Philadelphia, the health department worked with 206 restaurants to create the “Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative.” After evaluating menus for sodium content, participating restaurants began choosing lower sodium ingredients and creating lower sodium recipes. After nine months, analysis of two popular dishes offered by 20 of the restaurants showed sodium was reduced by 20 percent.
“The story in Philadelphia shows what can be done,” Dr. Frieden said. “It’s not about giving up the food you love, but providing lower sodium options that taste great.”
Cutting back on your sodium intake is an effective, simple way to improve one’s health, which will also save you money on your health and life insurance premiums.