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Salt as the public enemy: The city of New York takes aim at fast food, restaurants and packaged foods

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If you’ve ever tried to reduce the amount of salt in your diet, you know it’s not an easy task. Even after you’ve put your own personal salt shaker away, it can seem impossible to get away from the high levels in canned, frozen, fast and restaurant food.

New York City wants to help.

"Salt is a huge problem in our diets," Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told CNN. "The majority of us consume too much salt, which increases blood pressure and puts us at risk for heart attack and stroke."

The city health department is taking the lead in a national effort announced Monday to help Americans lower the amount of salt in their diets. By partnering with cities, states and health departments across the country, they hope to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over 5 years.

That would help the average American, who needs only about 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day but who instead consumes between 3,400-3,500 milligrams. Angel said that 80 percent of the average person’s salt intake comes from packaged and restaurant foods.

From the story:

“During the past year, city officials have met with industry leaders, company representatives, restaurant owners and health experts to come up with a plan. The result of their meetings is a list of proposed benchmarks for 61 categories of packaged foods and 25 classes of restaurant food to help companies and restaurants nationwide gradually reduce sodium.

“Subway, one of the companies that advised the health department, says that it is ready to commit to reducing salt in all Subway locations across the country.

"We have been looking at ways to reduce sodium in all of our products," said Kevin Kane, a spokesman for Subway. "This seemed like an extension of what we were doing already."

“The company's most popular product, the 6-inch turkey sandwich, already meets the recommended sodium criteria for the five-year mark. But Kane acknowledged that the chain needs to work on getting some of its other offerings to make the grade without affecting the sandwiches' taste.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.