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Do restaurant salads contain as much salt as cheeseburgers?

With what appears to be an ever-increasing media fascination in health and well-being, and with daily reports in the press on the various hidden dangers in our food, diners are turning more and more to the healthy options on the menu. In the majority of restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets, the healthy option tends to be a mouthwatering array of salads. Every menu from high-class dining establishments to fast food takeaways, coffee shops, supermarkets and corner shops offer exciting salads with exotic ingredients and dressings which lure the customer with the promise of a healthy, guilt-free meal.

However, recent research by Action on Salt (AoS) has shown that in many cases salads are not the wholesome option that they might appear to be. Shockingly, some ready to eat salads contain over 5g of salt in a single serving. Current health guidelines state that an adult should consume no more than 6g in a day, so those 'healthy' salads are clocking up a day's worth of salt in one hit. Far from being the healthy option, some restaurant salads contain more salt than their not-so-healthy menu mates. Pizza Express' grand chicken Caesar salad with dough sticks, for example, contains more salt than their classic Margueritta pizza, and a healthy McDonald's chicken and bacon salad with balsamic style dressing contains as much salt as a cheeseburger. And they aren't alone; since 2014, the salt content in ready-made salads has increased by a staggering 13 per cent, with the average salad now containing 1.86g.

AoS argue that restaurants and retailers need to be more transparent when promoting healthy options. Consumers want to know what is in their food and deserve to be given the information they need to make an informed decision. A traffic light system similar to that on shop bought food is recommended to allow the diner to make a healthy choice.

Reducing our intake of salt is one of the easiest ways of avoiding stroke and cardiac failure. Many dressings, particularly those containing naturally salty ingredients such as soy sauce, are liable to increase the salt content in any salad. However, AoS recommend that we reformulate our menus to avoid unnecessary salt and consider how best to ensure that the customers are offered a low-salt, healthy option which isn't packed with hidden extras which are both unnecessary and unwanted.

So, the next time you book your favorite dining table, yes that one, the one with the view of all the Seven Wonders, you may choose to stop and think about what's on the menu and how many days worth of salt may be hidden in the salad choice that you almost always have!

Posted by: Josh Seddon

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