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Diet & Nutrition

Cheese Still Loaded With Salt

The high salt content of cheese is a “global challenge”, according to research in the UK who published their findings in August 2014 in the online journal BMJ Open. A release from the publisher notes that a high dietary salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for stroke, heart attacks, heart failure and kidney disease. It also increases the risk of stomach cancer and osteoporosis, and is indirectly linked to obesity.

The researchers discovered that the salt content of cheese varies widely, even within the same type of cheese, prompting the team to call for much tougher targets on salt lowering. The researchers analyzed the salt content of 612 different cheeses. Halloumi and imported blue cheese contained the most salt (2.71 g/100 g), while cottage cheese contained the least (0.55 g/ 100 g).

Salt reduction is widely recognized to be one of the most cost effective ways of improving public health, and at the 66th World Assembly, all countries unanimously agreed to cut their salt intake by 30% towards a target of 5 g/day by 2025.

Among the 394 cheeses with salt reduction targets, most (84.5%) had already met them for 2012.

Cheddar and cheddar-style cheeses are the most popular/best-selling lines and 250 of these products were included in the analysis.

On average, salt content tended to be higher in branded (1.78 g/100 g) than in supermarket own label (1.72 g/ 100 g) cheddar and cheddar-style cheeses.

Also, more of the supermarket own-label cheeses in this category met the 2012 target for salt reduction than did the branded products: 90% compared with 73%.

“Our finding of a high salt content in cheeses sold in the UK is similar to those observed in the USA, Australia, France, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Brazil. . . The results indicate that much larger reductions in the amount of salt added to cheese could be made, and more challenging targets need to be set,” the authors concluded.

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