Typical picnic basket contains ‘dangerous’ levels of salt, health campaigners warn

The Independent

Sarah Young

a plate of food on a table

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited A typical picnic basket of savoury snacks contains harmful amounts of salt and saturated fat, health campaigners state.

Action on Salt (AOS) – a group of specialists that campaign to raise awareness of the effects of salt on health – is warning that one in four picnic foods are “dangerously high” in salt and almost one in three have no colour-coded front-of-pack labelling, making it difficult for consumers to make healthy choices.

© Getty As a result, AOS is calling for immediate, compulsory nutritional labelling on all savoury snacks.

The warning follows the findings of a survey conducted by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, which analysed 555 savoury picnic finger foods available from retailers.

Among the worst offenders in the foods analysed by the group were Aldi’s specially selected hand-stuffed Halkidiki Olives, with 5g of salt per 100g – double the salt concentration of seawater – and Ginsters Cornish pasties, with 2.99g a portion, which is the equivalent to seven portions of salted peanuts.

Gallery: 7 Clear Signs You’re Eating Too Much Salt (Best Health)

a man standing in front of a window: Who knew that salt could even impact your brain function? According to a 2011 Canadian study on 1,200 more sedentary adults, those with high-sodium diets had a higher chance of cognitive decline than those with less salt in their diets. As you age it is important to keep track of how much salt you consume, and make changes if necessary.

Similarly, Aldi’s Eat & Go Sausages & Ketchup were found to contain 2.2g per portion, as much salt as four and a half bags of ready salted crisps, while Fry’s Spicy Three Bean Pasty contained 1.8g per portion, the same amount as a McDonald’s hamburger and fries.

The study also showed that the saltiest sausage roll was Fry’s Sausage Roll, a vegan brand with 1.8g salt per 100g.

Scotch eggs, which has an average salt content of 0.76g per 100g, and quiche, which has an average salt content of 0.54g per 100g, were the lowest salt categories.

© Getty The researchers warned that almost half of the products surveyed were also “worryingly high” in saturated fat.

Morrisons Cheese & Onion Slices (330g) were found to contain 17.7g of saturated fat per portion, almost meeting a woman’s recommended daily limit of 20g.

Similarly, Asda’s Extra Special Maple Cured Smoked Bacon Quiche Lorraine with Butter Enriched Shortcrust Pastry (410g) contained 11g of saturated fat per 100g or 14g per portion, which is almost as much as in five McDonald’s hamburgers.

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of AOS, said that the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England are responsible for Britons continuing to eat more salt than recommended.

“Reducing salt is one of the most cost-effective measures to protect health,” MacGregor said.

© Getty “The time has come for the Secretary of State for Health to resuscitate the UK’s salt reduction programme, helping us to, once again, be world leading rather than trailing behind the rest of the world. The public’s health has suffered long enough.”

According to the NHS, adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – the equivalent to one teaspoon.

It adds that eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure which, if left untreatd, can increase a person’s risk of developing a number of serious long-term health conditions, such as coronary heart disease and kidney disease.

AOS states that a reduction in salt intake could reduce blood pressure and prevent approximately 2.6m. stroke and heart attack deaths each year worldwide.

Gallery: 26 So-Called ‘Healthy’ Foods You Should Avoid (The Daily Meal)

“Eating yogurt is an awesome way to add good bacteria to your gut,” Schiff says. But she notes too many yogurts have sugar as a top ingredient, and suggests shoppers buy plain yogurt instead, adding in such mix-ins as fruit, nuts, low-sugar granola or chia seeds. She also recommends Greek yogurt, a higher-protein kind of yogurt. Non-dairy diners can try almond and soy yogurt.