Cheese fan? Monitor your salt intake Caerphilly…

by , Researcher Consumer Rights 29 November 2012
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Research into salt levels in cheese has revealed that one portion can contain as much salt as a bag of crisps. Did you realise that cheese was such a salty treat? Traffic light labels could help.

Cheese on a cheese board with a grater and napkin

Cheese is a big part of my life. I simply can’t imagine what life would be like if I could no longer tuck into Stilton, Wensleydale or a nice mature cheddar. The survey by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), has made me rethink the amount of cheese I consume, however.

Now, I had a fair idea that cheese was high in salt. My favourite cheeses all taste quite salty, but I hadn’t paid enough attention to how they factor into my Guideline Daily Amount (GDA). The GDA for salt is 6g, and the saltiest cheese, Roquefort, contains 1.06g of salt in a 30g portion (that’s about the size of a matchbox). I had no idea that cheese could be so salty!

Traffic lights for tasty treats

Other shoppers must be as surprised by this research as I am. To help cheese lovers know which of their tasty favourites are higher in salt than they might expect, we need clear labelling. All manufacturers and retailers should provide clear traffic light nutrition labels on the front of their packaging so that we can spot high levels of salt and other nutrients at a glance. Traffic light labels make it easier for us to make the healthy choices we need for a balanced diet.

Cheese is always going to feature in my diet, but I think I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my portion sizes from now on. This is not too much of a sacrifice though, as the best cheeses are ones that you can savour. I should probably check how much salt there is in chutney too…

5 comments

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williambarn

I guess one reason people may not realise is that the crafty food manufacturers probably just say sodium. And I’m wondering how many people will know they should multiply the sodium figure by 2.5 to get the salt equiv. They are rascals.

Just checked the slabs of cheese in my fridge ( home made pizza is the biz) and the mass produced stuff I use is around 1.75g per 100g, although they only list it as 0.7g of sodium.

I’ll have to check on that slab of stilton the next time I’m in the supermarket, just to see what that is

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wavechange

There is a good reason for quoting the sodium content rather than salt content of foods. It is consuming too much sodium that can raise the blood pressure of those who are susceptible and there are other sources of sodium than common salt. Monosodium glutamate is the best known example. Conversely, the popular ‘low salt’ version of table salt contains less sodium. Don’t worry about the chloride part of sodium chloride (common salt). Your stomach contains a great deal of this in the form of gastric acid.

Having said all that, I suspect that some food manufacturers are trying to make us think that their products are more healthy than they are.

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wavechange

Cheese tastes salty, at least if you are not accustomed to using a lot of salt on food. My main concern is the fat content. On the other hand, cottage cheese contains little fat and eating a lot of it will certainly boost your salt intake.

I am more concerned about salt in bread, which we have discussed earlier in Which? Conversation. Much of the nicer bread does not come with any nutrition information.

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sjaantje

Does it matter?
All the food I love has a drawback or is forbidden.I have to eat something!

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Malcolm R

Couldn’t agree more sjaantje. Enjoy the food you like, eat a balanced diet, don’t eat much processed food and you should live to a healthy old age with happy taste buds. I like cheese, but my Christmas treat is dripping on toast for breakfast (with a little salt) from the boxing day ribs of beef.

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