What New York’s Latest Menu Warnings Mean for Your Health

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The post-Thanksgiving food detox got a major mandated boost Tuesday in New York. Under a ruling approved by the New York City Board of Health, chain restaurants (defined by those with 15 or more locations across the country), some movie theaters and concession stands are now required to tag menu items that have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. The tag—a black triangle icon with a white saltshaker in the middle—serves to notify patrons when an item hits above the recommended daily intake of sodium.

“This is a great program to increase nutrition awareness and potential health effects of consuming certain foods,” celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson says. “On average, Americans eat approximately 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day—about 75 percent of which comes from processed foods. High sodium intake stresses the kidneys and encourages water retention. This increases fluid pressure in the vessels, and over time, it can lead to high blood pressure.”

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In addition, Simpson notes that it is important to balance out sodium intake with foods rich in potassium (mainly found in fresh fruits and vegetables). “Potassium works to relax blood vessels and balance out water in the body,” she says. “Typically, we’re consuming far less potassium-rich foods over salty foods, hence this type of program may encourage consumers to be more conscious of what they consume and purchase in restaurants.”

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