Your restaurant meal is probably still too salty

July 23, 2014—Easier said than done? It seems that’s the case when it comes to reducing the sodium content in restaurant meals. While many restaurants pledged to cut back on salt in the dishes they served, few have risen to the occasion, a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found.

A little salt goes a long way

Excess sodium intake is linked to serious health problems, including the risks of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Yet most Americans consume far more than they should, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2009, the center assessed the sodium content of a sampling of menu items from 17 restaurant chains. In 2013, the center again assessed the menu items to see if promises to reduce the sodium content were fulfilled.

They found that while many of the meals did, indeed, have less salt overall, other meals actually had increased levels of sodium. And even among meals with reduced sodium, many still contained more than a day’s worth of it—some even contained two to three days’ worth of sodium.

Read more here.

Sorting out salt

The researchers said that reducing Americans’ sodium intake could slash the incidence of coronary heart disease and save thousands of lives.

Even if restaurants and food manufacturers are slow to take up the cause, you can get proactive.

For starters, eat out less often. And when you do plan to go out, make healthier choices:

  • Research sodium content at popular restaurants before you eat out.
  • Ask for sodium information before you select your meal at the restaurant. That information might not be printed on the menu, but you can ask for a nutritional information brochure to read before you order.
  • When possible, request that your meal be made with less salt or with no added salt.
  • Swap out high-sodium sides such as fries for heart-friendly options like fresh fruit or salad with dressing on the side.

The foods you buy at the store might also have an unhealthy amount of salt. To find out more about how to check your food labels for sodium content, click here.

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