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New York City To Lower Salt Content in Restaurant Foods

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First Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants in New York City (NYC). Then he removed trans fat and required restaurants to post calories on menu boards. He has encouraged the NYC health department to start ad campaigns against sugary soft drinks. His next challenge: to lower sodium content in restaurants and foods by 25% over the next 5 years.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that was an analysis or better yet a projection of the effects of sodium on our risk of cardiovascular disease and what would happen if we reduced sodium in our diets.

Sodium is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease as a contributor to strokes and heart attacks as well as kidney disease.

The projection estimates that reducing dietary salt (and therefore sodium) by 1,200 mg of sodium per day would reduce the annual number of new cases of CHD by 60,000 to 120,000, stroke by 32,000 to 66,000, and myocardial infarction by 54,000 to 99,000 and to reduce the annual number of deaths from any cause by 44,000 to 92,000. They also estimate that $24 Billion could be saved annually in health care costs. Not small numbers to sneeze at.

The problem is not the salt shaker. We learned a long time ago not to touch that. Most of the sodium we ingest is found in processed foods and restaurant foods. Salt tastes good and food without it tastes bland. It's that simple. Chefs love salt in any form to bring out the flavor in foods.

The average American eats over 4,000 mg of sodium per day. Health recommendations are to stay below 2,300 mg per day. Many restaurants have over 4,000 mg in just one meal.

If history is any projection of the future, the changes in diet related regulation that start in NYC filter down to other cities and counties around the country. Restaurants and food companies may be back at the drawing board really quickly in order to reduce their sodium content to meet new regulations. Let's just hope these brilliant chefs in charge of flavor can come with tasty ways for us to not even realize it is missing.

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition Trends , Restaurant Nutrition

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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