New research has exposed the ‘unnecessarily high’ levels of salt in cheeses available at UK supermarkets. It revealed that blue cheeses and halloumis are, on average, saltier than seawater.
This is the first study to offer an in-depth picture of a main source of salt in our diets. It also discovered that supermarket own-brand cheeses were more likely to meet the salt-reduction targets recommended by Government.
According to researchers from Queen Mary University, an individual in Britain consumes around 9kg of cheese annually. However, despite the recent push to reduce salt in foods, including cheese, many popular brands still contain very high levels.
About 9% of an individual’s salt consumption is obtained from dairy products with cheese making up half of that amount. A high-salt diet has been linked to high blood pressure, which puts the individual at risk of kidney disease, heart attack and stroke.
During 2012, a survey of 612 different cheeses available from UK supermarkets was conducted. At the time, researchers found that blue cheese and halloumis contained the most salt, with an average of 2.71g per 100g. The least salty was cottage cheese with 0.55g per 100g.
The health service recommended salt intake is 6g per day.
Researchers investigated 250 different types of cheddar cheese and found that the salt levels were much higher in branded products than supermarket own-brands, at 1.78g and 1.72g per 100mg respectively.
Experts have stated that salt reduction targets need to be stricter and the fact that own-brand products have been successful at meeting the targets, it indicates that it is possible to produce popular cheeses with less salt.
The co-author of the study and nutritionist for Consensus Action on Salt and Health, Dr Kawther Hashem, said big brand should stop dragging their heels and get to the same level as supermarkets or they will be left behind. Dr Hashem added that consumers should check labels and choose cheese with lower salt and fat content, or they should only consume small amounts.
Image Credit: Mike Hammerton