Food Fit Philly


NEW: Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative Data Brief

The Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative, “Less Salt,
Healthier Eating,” is working to prevent high blood pressure in
Philadelphia residents by reducing the amount of salt (sodium)
in Chinese take-out restaurant dishes.

Learn more about salt.

Restaurant owners began by making low-sodium changes to their
most popular dishes: chicken lo mein, shrimp with broccoli, and
General Tso’s chicken.

Current strategies include:

  • decreasing the amount of sauce 
  • using lower-sodium ingredients
  • using more fresh vegetables instead of canned
  • not adding table salt     
  • using a standardized measuring spoon to add sauce
  • limiting distribution of soy sauce packets to customers

The initiative is a joint effort of the Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, the Center for Asian Health of Temple University, the Asian Community Health Coalition, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.


Frequently Asked Questions

How much salt is in Chinese restaurant dishes? 

Chinese restaurant dishes can have very high levels of salt because of the sauces and salt added during preparation and cooking:


Items Sodium amount in portion *
Egg Rolls 416 mg (1 piece)
Fried Rice 554 mg (1 order)
Lemon Chicken 1549 mg (1 order)
General Tso’s Chicken 2325 mg (1 order)
Beef and vegetables 2349 mg (1 order)
Kung Pao Chicken

2425 mg (1 order)

 * Source USDA

I own a Chinese take-out restaurant.  What can I do to improve the health of my community?

Chinese take-out restaurants that join the Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative will work to reduce the amount of salt they use to prepare their dishes. Participating restaurants can reduce the amount of salt they use without drastically changing the flavor of their food.

We will help you!

The Task Force will:

  • Talk with you about the harms of consuming too much salt.
  • Provide you with a free training on low salt healthy cooking.
  • Help you learn how to purchase healthier items from your food suppliers.

We will also:

We believe that the Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative can have a major impact on improving the health of the community.

To find out more, please contact the Center for Asian Health, Temple University, at 215-490-0705 or

Won't cutting back on salt change the taste of my restaurant's food? 

  • Sodium reduction does not mean that food needs to taste bland. Human taste buds aren't sensitive enough to notice a reduction in salt of about 10 percent—and for many types of foods, up to 25 percent. That means home cooks, professional chefs, and the food industry can easily make “silent”—yet meaningful—cuts in salt.
  • Once we make these silent cuts in sodium, we can replace salt with other delicious seasonings and make additional gradual, steady reductions in sodium over months and years. That way people can slowly become accustomed to lower salt food without having to settle for bland-tasting food. Click to view The Nutrition Source for flavorful recipes that spare the salt.

Where can I find out more? 


Join Us!

To become a part of the Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-Out Initiative, please contact the Center for Asian Health, Temple University, at 215-490-0705 or

Join the more than 150 Philadelphia restaurants that have already signed up:


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