Salad survey reveals hidden salt in lunchtime salad and pasta bowls

  • A lunchtime salad or pasta bowl could contain more than half of your daily maximum of 6g
  • A high salt diet could be the cause of your bloating feeling
  • Lack of front of pack labelling in cafes and fast food chains makes it very difficult to compare products

Click here for some low salt salad recipes

Summer is the time of year when many women try to lose weight and get in to shape. One way to do this is with healthy lunches such as salads. However, CASH has found that a salad brought from a café or fast food outlet could contain more than HALF  of your 6g daily maximum recommendation for salt.  Instead of making dieting women feel healthy, the high salt levels in these salads could lead to water retention, making women feel sluggish and bloated.

Although most of the supermarket salads in this survey were labelled with clear front of pack nutritional information, the salads from cafes and fast food chains were not. This makes it very difficult for people to know how much salt is in a pack. You may actually be eating a lot more salt than you think! 

What can you do?

By making simple changes, such as swapping to lower salt ingredients and only having a small amount of the dressing provided you could go along way to reducing your salt intake.

Have a look at our product examples below. By choosing the lowest salt options rather than the highest you could save nearly 3g. Because of the large variations in similar sounding products, guessing simply isn’t an option!

TABLE 1: Simple swaps to reduce your salt intake at your favourite supermarket

High ProductSalt/portion (g)Low Alternative ExampleSalt/portion (g)Difference(g)
ASDA Chicken and Bacon Caesar Pasta (240g)1.9ASDA Tomato and Chicken  Pasta (270g)0.51.4
Boots Delicious... Chicken Fajita Pasta salad (271g)1.4Boots Delicious... Honey and Mustard Chicken Pasta Salad (224g)0.71.10
Cafe Nero Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad (256g)1.6Cafe Nero Chicken  & Orzo Pasta Salad (228g)0.51.10
EAT Spicy Crayfish Noodles3.51EAT Superfood (with Dressing)0.60252.91
Marks & Spencers A Taste of... Asia. Lochmuir Smoked Salmon Rice Salad.  Asian Style Vegetables Salad. Edamame Soya Beans. 2 Cucumber Maki with a Soy & Lime Dressing (258g)2.83Marks and Spencer Simply Fuller Longer King Prawns with Mixed Rice & lentils & a Sweet Chilli & Coriander Dressing (230g)0.802.03
McDonalds Crispy Chicken & Bacon Salad (with Low fat Caesar Salad Dressing)2.6McDonalds Grilled Chicken Salad (with Low Fat Balsamic dressing)1.70.9
Pret A Manger Super (Duper) Houmous Salad (with Dressing)3.2Pret A Manger No Bread Tricolore (with Dressing)0.23.00
Sainsbury's Greek Salad Tabouleh (277g)1.59Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself Orzo Sunbaked Tomato Salad (270g)0.261.33
Subway Sweet Onion Teriyaki (with Sweet Onion) (434g)2.1Subway Chicken Breast (with Honey Mustard Sauce)1.30.8
Tesco Cheese and Tomato Pasta (300g)2Tesco Chicken, Tomato and Basil Pasta (350g)0.71.30
The Co-operative Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad1.3The Co-operative Healthier Choice Sweet Chilli Chicken Noodle Salad (limited edition)0.60.70
Waitrose special Edition King Prawn Thai Rice Salad (230g)2.25Waitrose Special Edition Poached Salmon Pasta Salad (220g)0.911.34


TABLE 2: Examples of similar sounding products having large differences in salt content

High ProductSalt/portion (g)Low Alternative ExampleSalt/portion (g)Difference(g)
Pret A Manger Super (Duper) Humous Salad with dressing3.2EAT Superfood (with dressing)0.60252.60
EAT Spicy Crayfish Noodles3.15EAT Spicy Chicken Noodles1.3352.21
Marks & Spencer Avocado & Feta with a Mint & Creme Fraiche Dressing2.40Pret A Manger No Bread Tricolore with dressing0.22.20
Waitrose Special Edition King Prawn Thai Rice Salad2.25Sainsbury's Be Good to Yourself Black Nanjing Rice with King Prawns0.511.74
Marks & Spencer A Taste of Italy. Orzo Pasta & Slow Roasted Tomato Salad, Italian Mozzarella & Olives.1.95Sainsbury's Be Good to Yourself Orzo Sunbaked Tomato salad0.261.69
Marks & Spencer Eatwell Tuna with 3 Bean Salad, Potatoes & Red Peppers2.13Sainsbury's Tuna & Mixed Bean Salad0.661.47
Tesco Cheese & Tomato Pasta2Sainsbury's Cheese & Tomato Pasta0.771.23

Click here for a spreadsheet with all the survey data (Word) (Excel)
Click here for the best and worst examples
Click here for full press release
Click here for further information about women's health