High levels of salt hiding in restaurant meals

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High levels of salt hiding in restaurant meals

Many popular meals eaten in UK high street restaurants can contain large amounts of salt, in some cases more than twice the daily maximum limit for an adult in a single meal, according to new research published by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).

To mark Salt Awareness Week 2009, CASH worked with Trading Standards officers around the country to measure the salt content of 96 popular menu items from 16 high street restaurant chains, including Pizza Express, Wagamama, Old Orleans and Beefeater. CASH found that nearly three quarters (72%) of the main course dishes contained 3g of salt or more, the maximum daily limit for a six year-old, and seven of these contained 6g of salt or more, the maximum daily limit for an adult.

The saltiest main course surveyed was Old Orleans Chicken Fajitas, with 8.8g of salt per serving. A Pizza Express American Hot Pizza contains 7.5g of salt per portion and a Wagamama Ramen contains 7.2g of salt per serving. By comparison, a popular main meal at Beefeater of Sirloin Steak, grilled tomato, flat mushroom and chips contains only 0.4g of salt.

Starters, side dishes and desserts were also surveyed. Someone eating at Old Orleans and choosing Chicken Wings, followed by Chicken Fajitas and finishing with Apple Pie and Ice Cream would consumer over 15g of salt, two and a half times their daily limit in one meal.

Carrie Bolt, CASH Nutritionist, said: “Our worry is that people eating some of the higher salt meals we found will have no way of knowing how much salt is in their meal or that they have exceeded their daily salt limit, as there is no information available to them in the restaurants. I think that people will be as shocked as I am at the levels of hidden salt in some of our favourite restaurant meals.

Mike Rich, Executive Director of the Blood Pressure Association, said: "Everyone likes a meal out but, as this research shows, dinner may be less enjoyable with the knowledge that it's loaded with unnecessary salt. We encourage everyone to eat less salt since it's the quickest way to reduce high blood pressure, the leading cause of strokes and heart attacks.  But low salt doesn't have to mean low taste. We hope restaurateurs will take this on board during National Salt Awareness Week and do their bit to help the nation's blood pressure health."

To see CASH’s full press release visit: www.actiononsalt.org.uk

For more on how to lower your salt intake and reduce blood pressure please use the links below:

Topics: Lifestyle, High blood pressure

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