By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
Huge amounts of salt continue to be added to many restaurant, café and supermarket salads, according to a new survey by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH). This is despite calls in 2010 to lower salt in salads, as certain restaurateurs and food manufacturers continue to sneak in large amounts of unnecessary salt when it comes to serving up their ‘healthier’ dishes and raising the nation’s blood pressure
CASH surveyed 650 ready-to-eat salads available for purchase from supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and fast food restaurants and found nearly three quarters (77% – 511 products) to contain more salt than a packet of crisps (0.5g/portion)
Of the out of home salads:
A McDonald’s ‘Crispy Chicken & Bacon Salad’ has MORE salt (1.3g vs 1.2g), fat (19g vs 8g) and calories (380kcal vs 250kcal) per portion than a McDonald’s Hamburger
Pizza Express’ ‘Grand Chicken Caesar Salad’ contains an astonishing 5.3g salt/serving, the equivalent of two and a half Big Macs and almost your whole days’ worth of salt (6g) in just one meal.
Pizza Express’ ‘Warm Vegetable & Goats Cheese Salad’ containing 5g salt/serving – four fifths (83%) of your maximum recommended intake.
Wagamama’s ‘Lobster Super Salad’ contains 4.5g salt/serving – three quarters (75%) of your salt limit for the day in just one meal.
Nando’s ‘Mediterranean Salad with Chicken Breast’ which sounds like the healthy option contains a whopping 4.00g salt/serving, that’s two thirds (67%) our maximum recommended intake.
Of the supermarket salads, examples of those with the largest amount of salt/serving include:
Morrisons ‘Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad’ 2.8g salt/290g serving
Marks & Spencer ‘Chicken, Bacon & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.58g salt/380g serving
Boots ‘Delicious Simply Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.25g salt/300g serving
John West ‘Light Lunch Moroccan Style Salmon Salad’ 2.2g salt/220g serving
What’s interesting is that even the specially created foods which target the health conscious shopper e.g. superfood and detox salads, can also contain a high salt content. For example:
Pod ‘Chicken Detox Box’ contains 4.0g salt/serving (two thirds (67%) of our maximum recommended intake)
Pizza Express under 500 calories ‘Leggera Salmon Salad’ contains 2.4g salt/serving (over one third (40%) of our maximum recommended intake)
Sonia Pombo, a nutritionist at CASH explains, “Say the word ‘salad’ and you tend to imagine a bowl of healthy stuff nestled amongst some leaves, but that’s not accurate. Whilst salad itself is both healthy and tasty, food manufacturers and restaurants continue to add unnecessary salt to the dish, which not only alters the taste and makes you feel bloated, but more seriously, can lead to high blood pressure – the main cause of strokes and heart attacks.”
Top tips for making healthier salad choices;
• Keep an eye out for salty ingredients e.g. cheese, capers, anchovies etc. These will easily up your salt intake
• Beware misleading portion sizes on front of pack e.g. a third of a packet, or 1 tablespoon. This gives favourable values for front of pack labelling, when realistically you would eat the whole packet
• Many salad dressings are packed with salt and calories. Choose one with less salt, add less to your salad, or leave it out completely
• Make your own salad! Opt for healthy low salt ingredients, and make your own dressing e.g. olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pack your salad with herbs for extra flavour
• Check the label! Use FoodSwitch to make switching easier
• For a more flavoursome salad, add unsalted beans, pulses, nuts and seeds