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.
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.
Salt 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)|
Frequently Asked Questions
What is salt or sodium?
- Sodium is a mineral that plays a critical role in body function. It helps maintain proper fluid balance, transmits nerve impulses, aids in the passage of various nutrients into cells, and helps regulate blood pressure.
- Your body only needs a small amount of sodium to function.
- Sodium is found naturally in food, but it is mainly consumed as salt (sodium chloride) that is added to food.
- Salt is used in the food supply to flavor and preserve food and to add texture.
- One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium.
- On average, Americans consume twice the amount of sodium they need each day.
- The majority of sodium in our diet comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants. A smaller amount of sodium comes from what we add when we cook or prepare our foods.
*Source: Mattes, RD, Donnelly, D. Relative contributions of dietary sodium sources. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1991; 10(4):383-393
How much sodium is healthy?
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium (one teaspoon) per day.
Some people should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. This includes people who:
- Are age 51 or over
- Have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease
- Are African American or
- Are children
Why is it important to cut back on salt?
- Consuming too much salt raises blood pressure.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are two of the top three leading causes of death in the United States.
- Lowering salt intake helps people with normal and high blood pressure. When you lower your blood pressure, even if it is not abnormally high, you lower your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- About one in three Americans has high blood pressure, and roughly another third have slightly elevated blood pressure (pre-hypertension). Nine out of 10 U.S. men and women will develop hypertension at some point in their lives. Researchers estimate that reducing the average daily sodium intake in the U.S. to 2,300 milligrams (about one teaspoon of salt) per day would prevent 11 million cases of hypertension and would save $18 billion in health care costs each year.
- Another study estimates that cutting average daily sodium consumption by 1,200 milligrams (about ½ teaspoon of salt) would prevent up to 99,000 heart attacks and 66,000 strokes, and would save up to 92,000 lives a year.
- Beyond reducing the risk for hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, decreased sodium intake is associated with lower risk of stomach cancer.
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.
- 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:
- Highlight your restaurant on the websites of the Center for Asian Health at Temple University, the Asian Community Health Coalition and the Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association.
- Publish information in local Chinese newspapers that highlights your restaurant's participation in the initiative.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Join the more than 200 Philadelphia restaurants that have already signed up: