JUST one slice of many of the country’s most popular types of cheese contains more salt than a regular bag of crisps, consumers have been warned.
• One slice of feta cheese has more salt than a bag of crisps, a study has warned
• Nutritionists find cheese is third-biggest contributor to salt in UK diet after bacon and bread
Nutritionists say consumers are aware of the fat and calorie content of cheese, but they have now warned of the dangers of high salt levels.
They looked at 772 different cheese products and discovered the nation’s favourite variety, cheddar, had an average of 0.52g of salt in a 30g portion – more than a standard packet of crisps.
Even cheeses with reduced fat levels and labelled as “healthy options” were often loaded with sodium.
The experts concluded that cheese is now the third-biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet after bacon and bread.
The study, carried out by the nutritional group Consensus Action on Salt and Health, found that eating just one cheese sandwich can provide someone with more than the daily recommended salt intake – which is 6g for adults and 4g for children.
Lead nutritionist for the study Katharine Jenner said: “We already know most cheese is high in fat. However, we often add it to our meals without thinking how much salt it contains.
“This survey shows just one portion of cheese can contain more salt than a packet of crisps.
“We should all be eating less than 6g of salt a day, about a teaspoon, yet we are currently eating much more – 8.1g.”
The French blue cheese roquefort topped the table with 1.14g per 30g slice, or 3.53g in 100g – far more than a typical bag of crisps, and more than one rasher of bacon.
The other saltiest varieties were halloumi, cheese slices, feta, edam, sheep’s cheese, parmesan, gouda, cheese spread, stilton and gorgonzola.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chair of the group and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, warned that a high-salt diet can lead to a range of health issues including high blood pressure, which can increase a person’s risk of suffering from a stroke or heart attack.
He called for new limits on the levels of salt in cheese sold in the UK.
“Cheese is a big contributor of salt in the diet. We want new, lower targets for cheese manufacturers to work towards. The cheese industry must comply if we are to save the maximum number of lives,” he said.
“Even small reductions will have large health benefits. For every 1g reduction in population salt intake, we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, stroke and heart failure, half of which would have been fatal.”