Is this really new news?
I don't think so. There have been studies like this before showing obscene levels of sodium in most restaurant meals. We don't need a study to show us this, since most restaurants post their sodium levels for all to see (and ignore).
If nearly all restaurant meals in nearly all restaurants have unhealthy levels of sodium; why is this accepted?
Why are we all so willing to accept and rejoice in eating unhealthy food? Restauranteurs and customers alike appear to have little concern for health.
Am I going too far with a statement like that? Maybe, but I can't help but coming to that conclusion.
A new study (1) published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health revealed that the average meal in a sit down restaurant contains 1455mg of sodium, just shy of the adult recommended intake of 1500mg/ day.
It gets worse. 40% of restaurant items had more than 1500mg of sodium, and 22% of items like stir fry, sandwiches/ wraps, ribs, and pasta entrees exceeded the upper tolerable limit of 2300mg/ day. Kids meals were equally offensive with over half the amount of sodium a child needs for the day in one meal.
High sodium levels lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. While some people are less sodium sensitive, meaning dietary sodium affects their blood pressure less, this isn't the case for most people, so the risk isn't worth it. "Whoops! I gave myself high blood pressure hoping sodium didn't affect me much."
Adding a few dashes of salt to that meal you ordered? It already has ginormous amounts in it. Every 3 shakes of the salt shaker adds another 120mg of sodium. Hello high blood pressure!
What's up with that? Why put more salt "to taste" if there is already between 37-75 shakes worth of salt on the food already? One shake = 40mg sodium. The reason is over time the tongue and brain adapt to the flavour of sodium and in order to experience reward from sodium, you need more.
Can you see yourself shaking a salt shaker 75 times over a plate of food (about 35 seconds of non-stop salt assaulting)? Most people will see that as being a bit excessive, even if they love salt, but this is the amount of salt that is in many restaurant meals.
Of course restaurant industry reps are refuting the study results with lame claims that restaurants are doing their best to supply customers with what they want.
I don't buy it. Literally. I very rarely go to many popular restaurants because the food is so demonstrably unhealthy that it isn't worth it. It isn't worth it monetarily because I'm paying for an inferior product, and it isn't worth it health wise.
I'm approaching age 50 and I don't want to be another overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol statistic. I'm certainly not going to support a business that is openly willing to sell me poor quality food that negatively affects my health.
A reasonable piece of cake isn't going to harm anyone but when almost everything on the menu is obesogenic and far in excess of healthy levels of sodium, the only choices are between unhealthy items.
You can have any meal you want, as long as it's unhealthy.
Thanks for being so conscientious.
To be fair healthy dishes are starting to become slightly more popular, but it took huge pressure from health experts, special interest groups, the threat of government intervention, and customer demands.
Most restauranteurs are not making changes because of an altruistic concern for their customers health.
Nevertheless, I hope the tiny trend expands. Everyone wins with healthy eating. Restaurants still make money because they still sell food, and people are healthier.
Kudos' to restaurants that specialize in healthy foods and to those making room for healthier menu items.
The same journal also shows more Canadians are still becoming obese every year (due to overeating and inactivity), but the rate of increase is thankfully slowing (2)
Web site and iphone app for checking sodium levels in foods sodium101.ca