When you're eating out for dinner, do you know how much salt is in your meal?
Most people don't, and it's for this reason that New York City is implementing a law that will require most chain restaurants to warn diners if their meal has a particularly high sodium content, as the New York Times reported.
On the day the law took effect The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a breakdown of several popular chain restaurant meals to hammer home the impact high salt intake can have on health, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
And while the study was clearly aimed at New York, the fact that several of these meals are from national chain restaurants means it also has implications for diners in Minnesota.
Under New York's proposals, chain restaurants must publish a warning sign next to any dishes that contain more than a day's worth of sodium – which is 2,300 mg.
The CSPI listed a number of meals from family favorites including Applebee's, Dairy Queen, Denny's and Panera Bread that break the 2,300 mg barrier.
Topping the chart, at an eye-watering, mouth-drying 7,795 mg of sodium – well over three times the recommended daily amount – is Jersey Mike's Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak (with white giant bread), which also contains a whopping 1,740 calories.
Also high is Applebee's 4 Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders meal, which has 4,290 mg of sodium, while Dairy Queen's 4-Piece Chicken Strip Basket has 2,530 mg.
Here's the full list.
But while the new law has gone into effect in New York, there's no sign of Minnesota following suit, with the Minnesota Department for Health telling BringMeTheNews it hasn't taken a public position on the issue of whether a similar law could benefit the state.
The health effects of a high-sodium diet
The Centers for Disease Control contends Americans eat too much sodium, and says research shows that too much salt leads to high blood pressure.
Although there is a difference when we're talking about sodium and salt (which is technically sodium chloride), the CDC says 90 percent of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt.
The Mayo Clinic says sodium is "essential in small amounts" for humans, as it helps maintain the right balance of fluids in the body, helps transmit nerve impulses, and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
But Americans on average consume 3,400 mg of sodium each day, and in doing so are increasing their risk of heart problems.
Sodium is commonly found in processed foods, which are high in salt and additives that contain the ingredient. The clinic says those looking to limit their salt intake should eat more fresh foods, decrease the use of sodium-heavy condiments, and remove or reduce salt as an ingredient in meals.