Question: I’ve been advised to limit my sodium intake, and I now always check restaurant nutrition information before ordering. Why are so many restaurant menu choices high in sodium?
You pose a great question, as many people are paying closer attention to nutrition labels both in the grocery store and at restaurants.
Salt — the biggest source of sodium — has long been used as a flavor enhancer and preservative. Many Americans have become accustomed to highly flavorful foods, which are easier to create with generous use of salt. Additionally, many prepared items used by restaurants – anything canned, also cheese, bread/buns, cured meats, ketchup, sauces like soy, oyster, fish, etc., — have a lot of sodium. The good news is that restaurants and food manufacturers are working to lower sodium levels in their products and menu choices to make it easier for Americans to eat out while managing sodium intake.
When placing your order, there are several things you can do to help reduce the sodium in your meal without sacrificing flavor:
- Request “No added salt.”
- Request sauces and condiments served on the side, and use them sparingly.
- Limit high-sodium ingredients such as cheese, cured meats, pickles and olives.
- Skip the salad dressing in favor of lemon juice or vinegar.
- Opt for steamed vegetables or fresh fruit as a side.
- Search for “Sodium Savvy” choices at restaurants listed on HealthyDiningFinder.com.
Limiting your sodium intake at restaurants doesn’t have to mean limiting the flavor of your meal. The articles below contain more tips for slashing sodium in restaurant meals along with dietitian-recommended Sodium Savvy menu choices at restaurants nationwide: