The next time you dine in New York City, you might see this symbol in your menu.
The city's board of health has passed a measure on September telling restaurants and concession stands to include a salt symbol in menu items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more than a teaspoon of salt.
Restaurants who have at least 15 establishments around the United States as well as concession stands that are found in movie theaters and sports stadiums are now required to display a black triangle symbol with an image of a salt shaker in the middle to indicate that the food has a lot of sodium, which is more than what's recommended by nutrition experts.
In general, salt or sodium is not evil. In fact, it's needed to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. However, Western diet is criticized for having too much of it in different types of food. High sodium intake, in the long term, can have negative effects on a person's health. It increases water retention and raises the blood pressure, which can place a lot of stress on the kidneys. A person then becomes more at risk of developing heart disease. Too much sodium is also being linked to obesity, which is now one of the foremost causes of global deaths.
Although sodium can be obtained by eating salty food, many condiments or ingredients can also have salt, which all together can increase how much salt is consumed. For example, a typical soy sauce can have as much as 879 mg of sodium per tablespoon. Food such as a loaded chicken burrito from Chipotle, a popular Mexican grill that promotes healthy food, can actually pack almost 3,000 mg per serving.
The city hopes that with this measure, they can encourage their residents to take a more proactive approach on their health, including changing some bad habits. Aside from taking less sodium, they may be attracted to exercise and move more to combat the possible negative effects of a sodium-heavy meal.