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Salad - Fresh, Green And Drenched In Salt?

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Salad - Fresh, Green And Drenched In Salt?

So you think a fresh salad is a healthy lunch option? Read on!

Recent research in the United Kingdom has found that many purchased or packaged salads contain alarmingly high salt levels. Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) surveyed 268 salads (including noodle, rice, bean and cous cous based salads) sold in UK cafes, supermarkets and fast food chains and found, unexpectedly, that most salads packed a whopping salt punch. For example:

1 in 10 of the salads surveyed contained more salt than a Big Mac

Only 6 salads surveyed contained less salt than a standard 34.5 gram packet of ready salted crisps (chippies).

CASH reported that instead of feeling good after a salad lunch, the hidden salt in dressings, cheeses, pickles and processed meats like salami and bacon often make people feel bloated or sluggish - which may be symptoms of water retention.

More serious are the increased health risks caused by salt, or more precisely by sodium, the harmful ingredient in salt. These health risks include high blood pressure, osteoporosis , kidney disease, stomach cancer and other conditions.

"High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure and high blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke," says Mark Vivian, CEO of the Stroke Foundation. "The CASH findings are a wake-up call for consumers in this country. Many of us could unknowingly be consuming over half our maximum recommended daily salt intake. Given the wholesome image of salads, it's surprising to find they may contain such high levels of unnecessary salt."

On the plus side however, a healthy low-salt low-fat salad is an excellent and tasty way to build up to the recommended 'five a day" intake of fruit and vegetables .

"Whether you are purchasing a salad or making your own from scratch, you don't need salty fatty ingredients to make them taste good," says Mark Vivian. "In fact, putting a healthy salad together from fresh ingredients can be creative and fun. Go for different colours, different textures and different tastes. Eat salads often, keep physically active and at the same time reduce your risk of a range of preventable diseases." Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand. According to the Stroke Foundation there are about 6000 new cases of stroke each year - that's about 17 people a day. "To help reduce these grim statistics we are keen to see a significant reduction in salt levels in a range of higher salt foods currently on supermarket shelves," Mr Vivian says.

Although salt reduced foods are becoming more available, the Stroke Foundation believes that sensible regulation of salt (sodium) levels in processed food together with increased consumer education is needed to help bring down salt intake in the general population.

Tips to reduce the level of salt in salads

Avoid salty ingredients such as ham, bacon and cheese, swapping them for chicken, tuna or vegetables instead

Use the pot of dressing provided with purchased salads sparingly

Olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, balsamic vinegar and herbs can all make a salad taste great without the need for salty dressings and sauces

In a restaurant or caf, ask to have the dressing brought to the table in a side dish so that you can control the amount you use.

For a more filling salad, choose one based on pasta, cous cous, rice, pulses or mixed beans.

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