In Philadelphia, high blood pressure is a problem. About 37 percent of the city’s residents have high blood pressure, and in the African-American population that number jumps to 47 percent.

Several Philadelphia health organizations have banded together to train chefs at 200 Chinese takeout restaurants to reduce the sodium in dishes by 10 to 15 percent. Two of the most popular takeout dishes, Chicken Lo Mein and Shrimp with Broccoli, average 20 percent less sodium than they did before the program. The program is called the Healthy Chinese Takeout Initiative, and it’s seeing some success.

I like that the restaurants weren’t simply told they must reduce the sodium and left on their own. The program is voluntary, and the chefs received training that helped them learn how to season the food with alternatives like chilies or garlic. Unlike salt, both of those ingredients have added health benefits.

There were restaurants that declined to participate in the program because they feared that they would lose customers. Now that the program is seeing some success, perhaps those other restaurants will join, receive training, and begin serving up slightly healthier versions of their popular takeout dishes.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Philadelphia's Healthy Chinese Takeout Initiative reduces sodium
The program aims to reduce the amount of salt in Chinese takeout 10 to 15 percent. Some popular dishes have seen a 20 percent reduction.