5 Ways to Reduce Sodium at Your Restaurant

Salt & Pepper

With the new menu labeling law, many restaurants fear that high sodium and fat levels will drive away their customers. There is hope! Even if your restaurant’s menu items are high in sodium and fat, there are ways to combat the issue. Today, we are going to focus on sodium. Fat will be another day and another post!

First, it’s important to understand the current recommendations – 1,500-2,300mg of sodium per day. If you’ve ever added up your own sodium intake, you probably know that this is a very low number. Just 1 teaspoon of salt is the maximum limit – 2,300mg. With obesity on the rise, this is the ideal number for reducing risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, etc. that are often coupled with obesity.

So what can your restaurant do to combat those high sodium numbers without sacrificing taste, quality, and cost? Here’s a list of suggestions:

  • Knowledge: The first step in making a change is having a starting point. Without proper nutrition analysis on your menu items, you will never know if you need to reduce sodium on your menu items and by how much.
  • Limit Yourself: Limit the use of high-sodium sauces and seasonings. Many vendors have low-sodium options or reduced-sodium options.
  • Reduce: Try reducing added salt to recipes by 5-10%. Many dishes can withstand this type of change. If a 5% reduction compromises the taste, then try the next step.
  • Find Alternatives: Using herbs or spices to flavor dishes can had volumes to the taste with no sodium! I’m a firm believer that fresh is best. If you have a sunny spot in your restaurant or a small plot of land that you can use, grow yourself! During the summer months you can have fresh herbs at your disposal. You might even be able to find a local community garden to help you get started. What a fun way to give some of your staff some leadership skills! Most of your produce vendors should have fresh herbs and spices available too.
  • Substitute: Salt substitutes can reduce sodium levels significantly. These salt substitutes have come a long way since they were introduced ages ago – so give them another shot! There are even yeast extracts and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins that function as taste enhancers. They work by activating receptors in the mouth and throat to help compensate for salt reduction.

It might be impossible for your restaurant to recreate every dish on the menu to fit the sodium requirements. That’s okay! Having a handful of items on your menu that are low-sodium will accommodate your sodium-conscious customers. Plus, may be able to advertise “reduced sodium” on the menu (please check with a professional first!) . Sounds like a new project for the marketing team!

Evaluate the Plate
Dallas, TX