A Great Way To Reduce Sodium in the Diet.

Reducing sodium in our diets has a profound impact on lowering our blood pressure.  As it turns out, eating out is a major contributor to high levels of sodium in the diet.  Most restaurant food has an enormous amount of sodium in the food.  The chart below, borrowed from the CDC illustrates the amount of sodium in food commonly consumed when we eat out.


Reducing Sodium: From Menu to Mouth. Excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, a major contributor to heart disease and stroke. Home prepared meals have less sodium than meals prepared in fast food or sit down restaurants. What Can You Do? Ask for sodium content before ordering, or check online before eating out. Home prepared meals have less sodium per calorie than meals prepared in fast food or sit down restaurants, on average.Food from fast food restaurants contains 1,848 mg sodium per 1,000 calories, on average. Food from sit-down restaurants contains 2,090 mg sodium per 1,000 calories, on average. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg/day, and about 6 in 10 adults should further limit sodium to 1,500 mg/day*. Choose wisely to stay under 2,300 mg**. Top 6 Sources of Sodium from Restaurant Foods1,2: 1. 170 to 7,260mg sodium per sandwich. 2. 393 to 4,163mg sodium per slice of pizza containing meat. 3. 200 to 2,940 mg per burger. 4. 62 to 7,358 mg sodium per chicken entrée). 5. 250 to 4,870 mg per Mexican entrée. 6. 4 to 4,530 mg sodium per salad)* *Refers to those age 51 and older, and those of any age with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. ** Averages are for 2012–2013. 1 IOM Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. 2 Sodium content was determined using MenuStat.org. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, assuming we keep an eye on the amount of sodium we eat when we go to restaurants, we can control our daily intake of sodium.  According to the U.S Dietary Guidelines, it is recommended to have less than 2,300 grams per day as a minimum.  Interestingly, if we cook and eat at home, there is even less sodium per calorie on average than food we eat in fast food and sit down restaurants.

Eating home cooked meals looks like a great way to improve our heart health.