New initiative helps South Asian restaurants in Chicago use less salt
New York City is now requiring restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide to post a warning label on menu items that have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon), and those that don’t comply by March could be fined.
Although this measure is not in effect in Chicago, four South Asian restaurants – Curry Bowl, Mysore Woodlands, Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine and Viceroy of India – on average, have reduced the sodium content in their food by 22.7 percent in the past several months, according to independent laboratory analysis.
South Asians are four times more likely to die from heart disease than the general population, according to a study published in Internet Journal of Cardiology. Sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease.
The restaurants answered a challenge posed by Dr. Shoeb Sitafalwalla, medical director of the South Asian Cardiovascular Center at the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill, and the Chicago Department of Public Health.
As part of a new initiative, called South Asian Healthy Eating Benefits (SAHEB), chefs at the restaurants receive hours of nutrition training from a SAHEB-appointed registered dietitian with the goal of reducing sodium, but not reducing the taste of their popular menu items. With very simple techniques, the registered dietitian helps keep the taste, but lower the sodium.
“The success behind SAHEB exemplifies the power of partnerships,” says Dr. Sitafalwalla. “In this case, a partnership between health care, government and these vested businesses can uplift the health of an entire community.”
Each of the participating restaurants now has a SAHEB seal on the window boasting their accomplishment. Recruitment of additional South Asian restaurants is expected in the future.
About the Author
Sonja Vojcic, health enews contributor, is a marketing manager at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill. She has several years of international public relations and marketing experience with a Master’s degree in Communications from DePaul University. In her free time, Sonja enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and keeping up with the latest health news and fashion trends.