Low-Sodium Diet: How to Eat Less Sodium at Restaurants

Health authorities have long been warning Americans to slash the sodium in our diets. Yet with restaurant meals and processed foods growing in popularity, the low-sodium diet remains elusive. Many of us are consuming more sodium than ever — and not just from the salt shaker.

In fact, 3/4 of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods, says Columbia University researcher Wahida Karmally, DrPH, RD. And the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 85 out of 102 meals at popular restaurant chains contained more than a full day's worth of sodium. Some of the meals had four days’ worth of sodium.

Consuming too much sodium is serious business because it's a risk factor for high blood pressure. High blood pressure, in turn, can lead to stroke and heart disease.

Most U.S. adults consume the equivalent of 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt or 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. That's over twice the daily recommendation of 1,500 milligrams of sodium.