There’s How Much Sodium in That Dish?

September 7, 2021
There’s How Much Sodium in That Dish?

Don't be fooled by these healthy-sounding restaurant choices.

Sodium. It's odorless, colorless and practically undetectable. Too much of it is bad for your health, and if you eat at restaurants often, you may be consuming more than you think. The most common source of sodium is table salt, but it's also found in most processed foods.

The average person consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day but guidelines suggest adults limit sodium to no more than 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams daily. Your body needs some sodium to function normally, but too much can change the fluid balance in your body and increase blood pressure.

If you're watching your sodium intake, here are some healthy-sounding restaurant choices you may want to avoid.

  • Soups: Choosing soup from your favorite Chinese restaurant may seem like the perfect light and healthy choice to start your meal. But one cup of wonton or hot-and-sour soup can have 800-900 milligrams of sodium – that's before you even get to the main part of a sodium-filled meal. Instead, choose steamed dumplings, lettuce wraps or spring rolls.
  • Salads: Think that dinner-sized salad is healthy? A grilled chicken Caesar salad topped with cheese, croutons, anchovies and dressing can contain as much as 1,800 milligrams of sodium. To load up on healthy greens while keeping sodium levels in check, order salads containing mostly fresh vegetables and lean proteins. Hold the cheese, croutons, olives and other salty extras. Instead of commercially-prepared salad dressing, ask for oil and vinegar on the side. You'll not only reduce the sodium, but you'll also consume less fat and calories.
  • Sandwiches: Looking to eat lighter at lunch? Opting for a turkey club wrap over a cheeseburger may seem like the healthier choice, but at many restaurant chains sandwiches like these can have over 2,000 milligrams of sodium – more than most hamburgers. Although turkey contains less saturated fat than a burger, restaurants tend to pile on high-sodium extras like bacon, cheese or sauces to add flavor. Reduce the sodium (and fat) by replacing these sandwich add-ons with mustard and extra veggies.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 22, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

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