I was planning to order lunch from a national chain restaurant, so I did a bit of research. At the American Heart Association, we try to provide healthy food at meetings and events. I recently decided to replace the dark chocolates I use as decoration at my women’s legislative luncheon with apples. I have also vowed to work harder at eating primarily healthy food in my personal life. So, if I want to head out to lunch, I need to do a bit of research.
This particular restaurant has a "healthy" menu of selections under 500 calories. Before I started learning about how to eat a balanced diet, I would have just ordered off that menu and felt good about myself. It was cold out, so a ½ sandwich (loaded with veggies) and cup of soup appealed to me. The calorie count was right (especially if I ordered the apple rather than chips or bread). However, when I looked at the sodium content of my choice, I was floored.
The cup of soup had just under 1,200 mg and the ½ sandwich had just over 600! That is 300 mg more than the dieticians and scientists at the American Heart Association recommend for AN ENTIRE DAY. I am fortunate enough to have low BP, but it is still important for me to watch my sodium intake. After a bit of research, I found an alternative option that was not so bad—but it did not involve soup.
I am glad that I had the time (and a smartphone) so that I could research the nutritional information for this particular restaurant. Others are not so lucky. This is why it is imperative that we all work together to encourage restaurants and food vendors to reduce the sodium in their products and to make nutritional information more accessible. There is absolutely no need for lunch to have 1,800 mg of sodium. That restaurant could easily replace salt with a few spices and I could have had soup on a cold winter day.