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New Survey Exposes ‘Healthy’ Dips As Being Salt Traps
Widely regarded as a healthy option and a guilt-free alternative to snacks such as crisps and chocolate, a new survey by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has revealed many dips are potential salt traps – with some containing as much salt as 4 packets of ready salted crisps.
The national survey looked at 210 chilled dips across all major supermarket chains including houmous, guacamole, salsa and taramasalata.
The most commonly sold dip is houmous, yet it is far from the healthiest, with a staggering 74% (80 out of 108) having a red front of pack label for fat and not one single product providing a green front of pack label for salt . The dip, made predominantly from chickpeas, also contains on average 280 calories per 100g – more than 10% of the recommended daily intake for women.
Of all the dips surveyed, taramasalata was the saltiest with an average salt content of 1.25g per 100g compared to salsa which was the least salty (average 0.49g per 100g).
Examples of products with high levels of salt per 100g include:
• Tesco Caramelised Onion Houmous - 1.6g
• Sabra Baba Ganoush - 1.6g
• Marks and Spencer Caramelised Onion Houmous - 1.53g
• Marks and Spencer Taramasalata - 1.5g
• Moorish Baba ghanoush-ish Aubergine Smoked dip – 1.4g
Examples of products with lower levels of salt per 100g:
• Essential Waitrose Reduced Fat Sour Cream & Chive Dip - 0.25g
• The Co-operative Salsa - 0.3g
• Tesco Tzatziki - 0.4g
• Waitrose Creamy & Refreshing Guacamole - 0.4g
• Lidl Red Pepper Houmous - 0.43g
Sonia Pombo, Nutritionist and Campaign Manager for CASH says “Food companies need to take action and reduce both the salt and fat content in dips. The variation of different products revealed in our survey shows it can be achieved, which is why it’s equally important that we as individuals read the label carefully and opt for healthier brands. Also, remember to swap unhealthy sides with vegetables e.g. carrots, peppers and tomatoes, for added bonus.”
Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Blood Pressure UK says “Once again CASH demonstrate the unnecessary amounts of salt and fat being added by the food industry to what could be a healthy product. A diet high in salt leads to strokes and heart disease, the commonest cause of death in the UK. Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to reduce the number of people suffering, which is why it is imperative the government announce a new robust plan for reducing salt in our diet."
Top tips for choosing healthier dips:
1. Be label savvy and don’t be fooled by products branded as low/reduced fat – whilst the fat content may be lower the salt content may still be high! Take an extra moment to check the label and compare a few different ones before making your selection. Use the free app ‘Foodswitch’ to help you swap to a healthier choice!
2. Choose dips with less fat and salt, like salsa, or a vegetable-based dip, rather than sour-cream or cheese-based dips which are higher in fat and saturates.
3. Be wary of portion sizes – eating straight out of the container will most likely lead to over consumption, so spoon some out on your plate instead and fill it with healthier treats e.g. salad and fruit. Individual single-serve pots can be a good way to control portions.
4. Eat dips with vegetables rather than salty and high fat foods like crisps or cheese.
5. Get creative and make your own – that way you can control what you put in! Some plain low-fat yogurt, cucumber and a sprig of mint can make for a tasty homemade tzatziki, or why not make your own chunky salsa with some tomatoes, onion, chilli and fresh herbs?