Despite the clear recommended daily allowance of 6g for an adult, as a nation, we're eating more salt than ever - and more often than not, we don't even realise how much salt in our food in the first place.
Salt shockers: Hidden salt in everyday foods
The NHS recommends that adults eat no more than 6g of salt per day, and the figure is even less for under 11s.
According to the official guidelines, children aged 1 to 3 years should consume no more than 2g salt a day, those aged 4 to 6 years no more than 3g, and 7-to-10 year olds no more than 5g.
However, despite these clear recommended daily allowances, as a nation, we’re eating more salt than ever – and more often than not, we don’t even realise how much salt is in our food in the first place.
Some foods we know are going to give us a pretty big salt hit – a bag of ready salted crisps, for instance, or a piping hot bundle of chip shop chips. Even our weekend treat fry-up is usually served with a generous hit of crispy, salty bacon – and that’s why we have it as a treat.
However, what many of us don’t realise is that there’s also plenty of hidden salt lurking in your everyday storecupboard staples too, and from ready meals to condiments, the levels are higher than you might expect. There’s also a surprising amount of salt in your box of breakfast cereal, even the ones that you might think are good for you!
In fact – this storecupboard staple is hiding a whopping 5.8g of salt per serving – that’s as much as 12 packets of crisps!
Research from Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has revealed some of the worst offenders when it comes to salt content, including a tinned soup which, per can, contains more salt than a McDonalds’ Big Mac and large fries (yeah, we were pretty gobsmacked by that one too).
Here are some of the common household products you’ve probably got in your kitchen, and how much salt they really contain per serving…
Do you and your family watch your salt levels, or do you need to take more notice of the guidelines? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.
Salt: 0.3g per serving
In the grand scheme of things, 0.3g salt doesn’t sound a lot – but it’s all about context. 15g of ketchup is just one tbsp, and if your kids are anything like ours, they’ll consume three or four of those with their dinners.
For smaller diners, that could be almost half of their daily salt allowance, and that’s not including whatever they’re dunking in it…
Salt: 0.3g per servingKelloggs Cornflakes have long been revered as a healthy cereal option, but CASH’s figures found that they’re one of the saltiest options on the market, with approximately three times more salt than Aldi’s equivalent, Harvest Morn Cornflakes. They contain 1.13g salt per 100g, compared with 0.34g per 100g in the cheaper box.
Cornflakes contain relatively little added salt compared with most breakfast cereals, so they’re not a bad option to start the day. However, it’s worth reading the label before you go for your usual brand…
Salt: 0.51g per servingBad news for cheese lovers who pick up this reduced-fat cheese as a healthier choice – it’s become much saltier in recent years.
CASH revealed that since 2012, the salt content of this product has gone up a staggering 16%, from 1.7g per 100g to 1.98% per 100g. And when you consider your allowance of salt is a mere 6g a day, that little increase could make a big dent.
Salt: 0.6g per servingYou’d be forgiven for thinking that the warning on a pot of hot choc would be related to the sugar content, but recent research conducted by CASH has shown that this particular flavour contains more salt than some sea water. Yes, really.
Per cup, Galaxy’s offering has 16 times more salt than the Government?s 2017 target set for drinks, and significantly more than a standard bag of crisps, which generally includes around 0.46g salt. So remember the next time you boil the kettle, remember it’s not just your intake of the sweet stuff you should be keeping in check…
Salt: 0.61g per slice
This thick, pillowy white bread would be one of our top choices for comfort food meals like cheese toasties or beans on toast. However, we were shocked to find that two slices uses up 1/6 of your recommended daily salt allowance, and that’s before you’ve even looked at a filling or topping!
There are breads out there with much less salt per serving, so toast doesn’t have to be totally off the menu. Check out our best and worst bread round up to find out the best stats for your slice.
Salt: 0.62g per serving
If, like us, you tend to conveniently forget that your favourite dip actually contains a high amount of fat and salt, then it’s time for a gentle reminder! Because you could be unknowingly eating much more salt than you realise, especially if you’re a taramasalata fan…
According to new research from health campaigners Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), dips contain a whole heap salt, with an average content of 1.25g per 100g.
ASDA’s taramasalata came out as the saltiest in the study, with a serving containing as much salt as thirteen Ritz crackers.
Salt: 0.9g per servingWe suspected that salty popcorn would be an offender, but this innocent looking wasabi glazed offering from Metcalfe’s is actually one of the saltiest popcorn on the market outside of your local cinema, according to figures from CASH.
Chomp your way through one (fairly small) 25g bag and that’s 1/6th of your daily salt in a matter of minutes.
Salt: 1.2g per servingJust when you thought you were being healthy with a good old tomato soup for lunch, it turns out there’s a whopping 1.2g salt for every half can you eat.
If you’re having a particularly hungry day, and eat the whole tin, you’ll get through 2.4g, or almost half, of your daily salt allowance.
Salt: 1.5g salt per crumpet
CASH found that just one of these fluffy breakfast treats contain around the same amount of salt as three (yes, three!) bags of crisps.
Although these crumpets are larger than their supermarket counterparts, Waitrose’s crumpets contained half the concentration of salt with 0.75g per 100g, whereas Warburtons pack 1.48g per 100g. And when you consider that one of the nation’s favourite crumpet toppings is the equally salty spread Marmite, you can quickly see how all of that sodium adds up…
Salt: 1.5g salt per servingBad news for pesto fans, as CASH points out that Sacla’s popular product packs a whopping 1.5g salt per serving – that’s more than a McDonald’s burger, and, shockingly, 30% saltier than seawater.
The body also highlighted the brand’s Italia Organic Vegetarian Pesto No 5 Basil as containing the same high levels of salt. Sacla, however, say that their products are designed to be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.
Salt: 1.7g salt per servingBeans are one of the few 5-a-day offerings our children will wolf down without question, but perhaps we should be offering up some freshly steamed veggies instead, because the salt content in Branston Baked Beans seems particularly high!
In comparion, market leader Heinz Beanz contain 1.3g per serving – which is quite the saving when you’re a child that’s only allowed 2 or 3g of salt a day.
Salt: 1.75g per servingCASH singled out this particular Baxters soup when they found out that one whole tin contains more salt than a McDonald’s Big Mac and large fries!
Nearly half (47%) of the soups that CASH compared contained at least the same amount of salt per serving as two slices of Domino?s cheese and tomato pizza, and since Baxters took the top salt spot, you might want to look at putting a less sodium-loaded option in your shopping trolley.
Salt: 1.86g per serving
Cottage pie is classic comfort food, and it’s easy to grab a ready meal after a busy day. However, this bargain Sainsbury’s box will serve up almost a third of your daily salt intake in one sitting – eek!
For a healthier alternative, why not make our cottage pie recipe from scratch instead? It’s a little more work but the taste is worth it!
Salt: 2.54g per serving
Not only does one box contain 36.6g of fat (which, when you consider the recommended amount for an adult is 64g per day, is pretty steep), there’s also almost half of your daily salt intake hidden in there too.
Salt: 2.8g per servingThis rich, tomatoey meatball dish is enough to serve two, but just half the box dishes up almost half your salt for the day.
You’re much better off preparing a pasta sauce from scratch, so you know exactly what’s inside, and can keep salt levels to a minimum by using fresh herbs for flavour instead.
Salt: 3.3g per serving (3 sausages)Sausages are one of the worst offenders when it comes to salt but Richmond’s pork recipe seems to be particularly bad for your diet if you’re trying to watch the white stuff. Just one of their thick pork sausages has 1.1g of salt, which means you’ll be consuming a whopping 3.3 g of salt if you have three – ouch!
We get it: a whole pizza isn’t top of anyone’s healthy dinner list, and you’re eating it because you deserve a treat. We’re not saying you have to give up the cheesy goodness altogether, but there are pizzas on the market with far less salt than this, which contains more than half your day’s worth.
Asda Chosen By You Spicy Meatball Pizza, for instance, is still a very indulgent tea, but contains a whole gram less salt per pizza. And if that’s not a lesson in checking the labels, we don’t know what is…
Salt: 5.8g per servingWe would never dream of eating 12 packets of crisps in a row, but that is exactly how much salt these packaged noodles have hidden inside them.
With 5.8g of salt in every packet, that is the equivalent to a dozen bags of crisps (which are already high in salt as it is).
If you can’t resist the lure of the noodles, the best for salt content were Morrisons own brand, with only 0.4g of salt per serving – a massive saving of 5.4g compared to the Ko-Lee Instant brand.