When you go out to eat at various restaurants, you see nutritional information on the menu to help you make choices according to your dietary preferences and needs. At minimum, menus will usually display the calorie and fat content of a meal. You may even see whether a selection conforms to a particular diet program. All well and good, right? Well what about the sodium content? Where is the sodium on the menu?
Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure
When your blood pressure is high, your risk for a stroke or heart attack increases. The recommendations for daily sodium limits are less than 2300 mg of sodium. That’s about 1 teaspoon of salt! For people with high blood pressure, heart disease, and for African Americans or people over the age of 51, the limit is below 1500 mg of sodium a day. That’s about 2/3rds of a teaspoon! 😮
How do you find the low sodium choices?
As I look at all of those delicious looking dishes on the menu, and choose from the under 500 or 600 calories portion of the menu, I’m missing out on some very critical information. Where is the sodium content? After enjoying a meal one day that did not taste salty, seemed simple and was not nearly enough calories to be my sole meal for the day, I pulled out my phone and looked for the nutritional information online. I was horrified to see that I had just consumed 94% of my daily sodium limit in that one meal.
For another restaurant, I noticed that one of their meals had over 4000 mg of sodium – quite a bit more than the higher recommended daily limit of 2300 mg. On one occasion, when I asked my server about the sodium content of a dish I was considering, she brought over the manager. Although he did not know the sodium content of the meal, he said that it was considered to be a low sodium entree. That was somewhat helpful.
If we know where we’re going well ahead of time, we can look for the nutritional information online and make a list of possible choices. We don’t always have that kind of time do we?
Should restaurants put the sodium content of their food on the menu?
Should we have to sit with menu in one hand, and phone in the other in order to make vitally healthy choices? Or at the very least, should the restaurant staff have the information available so that they can tell us the sodium content when we ask for it?
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
All the Best,