A third of loaves contain as much salt per slice as a packet of crisps, according to Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). Do you know how much salt is in your sandwich?
And the worst offenders seem to be the ones that look like healthier options: artisan breads or those with seeds or mixed grains. Certainly the latter is something I automatically reach for.
The salt in my sarnies
So I thought I’d work out how much salt my lunchtime sandwich contains. I make my own sandwiches (OK, my husband does) and I tend to rotate between ham, cheese or chicken (not the wafer thin sort).
Turns out my favourite multigrain bread contains almost 0.5g of salt per slice. This means my homemade cheese sarnie (with two pieces of bread) contains around 1.45g of salt (ham would be 1.32g and chicken 1.19g).
A bag of branded salt and vinegar crisps contains 0.49g.
As for high street bought sandwiches, the cheese sandwich I found contained 1.3g salt; ham 0.6g; and a “healthy” chicken and salad sandwich 1.7g. And more surprisingly, a small box of sushi contained 3.3g. That’s over half the maximum daily amount adults should eat which is 6g (less for children).
So maybe my daily food routine is not as healthy as I thought. That’s annoying, as I’ve already had to cut down on some of my favourite foods to lower my cholesterol levels.
I’ve not really thought that much about salt, as I presumed I wasn’t eating too much. I already know that I have to check for hidden salt in foods, but had obviously forgotten about bread. So now I’m going to look more closely at salt levels as well as fat. And I must remember that if it says sodium on the pack you need to multiply that by 2.5: 1g of sodium = 2.5g of salt.
How to cut down on salt
But before we all panic and resort to eating crisps for lunch, remember that sandwiches contain more vital nutrients, such as protein, than crisps. Plus, we’re advised to eat complex carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice. It’s all about a good balanced diet.
Apparently 75% of the salt we eat is hidden in foods, rather than us adding it, so it’s hard to keep a track of exactly how much we’re eating. But research from CASH shows that Brits eat an average of 8.6g per day, with young men topping 10g a day.
So why is salt an issue? Too much salt can raise your blood pressure. High blood pressure (or hypertension, to give it its technical name) can mean you’re more at risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. And as it often has no symptoms, unless you visit your GP fairly regularly you may not know you’re at risk.
How can you cut down on salt? Here are a few simple tips: compare labels and choose those with lower levels or no added salt; remember they’re often hidden in products you might not expect; try not to cook with salt and don’t automatically add it to food; choose healthier snacks, like veggies; and go easy on sauces too.
But please don’t stop eating salt altogether because, like all nutrients, our bodies need it – in moderation – to function.
Are you surprised that some breads contain more salt per slice than crisps? Do you focus on cutting down on fat and sugar over salt? And what are your top tips for cutting down on salt?