Bread: a surprising culprit of our high salt intake

2nd September

  • Bread is responsible for a fifth of our daily salt intake
  • 1 in 4 loaves of bread contain as much salt per slice as a packet of crisps
  • Just 2 slices of the saltiest bread can give you nearly half of your daily recommended maximum for salt (6g a day)
  • Bread from high street chain bakeries found to be saltiest

Bread is a staple food which for many forms the basis of breakfast and lunch, but few realise that bread is the single biggest contributor of salt to our diet. A new survey has found that many loaves contain unnecessarily high levels of salt with some containing almost half of your daily maximum recommendation of 6g in just 2 slices, and this is before any toppings or sandwich fillings are added!

There is huge variation from one loaf to the next so the bread you choose could make a surprising difference to the amount to salt you eat in a day.  For example, a Cranks Seeded Farmhouse (2.03g/100g) contains nearly 4 times more salt than the lowest, a Marks & Spencer’s Simply More Eat Well Healthiest White Bread (0.58g/100g). This variation makes it essential to read the labels and compare products by 100g (approximately 2 slices of bread).

Freshly baked breads in supermarkets tend to be higher in salt than their packaged alternatives and fresh bread from bakeries can be even higher. Pain Complet from PAUL (a high street chain) was the highest salt loaf surveyed and contains 1.76g/100g, double the amount of salt as some of the fresh breads found in supermarkets! Disappointingly, fresh bread is rarely labelled making it impossible to check the labels and make an informed decision.

You might expect special breads such as rye bread to fare better however this is not the case. A slice of Schneider Brot Organic Sunflower Seed Bread contains over one gram (1.03g) (1.43g per 100g).

What can you do?

  • Check the label - choose breads with 1g salt or less per 100g or less than 0.4g per slice
  • Think about slice size - The thicker the slice, the more salt it contains, so stick to medium sliced loaves and be careful not to cut bread too thick if you buy it unsliced
  • Make your own - Click here for low salt bread recipes: Seeded Low Salt Bread and No Salt Wholemeal Bread
  • Get involved! Write to your local supermarket or bakery requesting they reduce the salt in their bread and label their fresh bread so that we can make an informed choice.

Bread is rarely eaten on its own; instead it is eaten with toppings or fillings which can be high in salt. Use the table below to see how you can have a lower salt meal just by swapping your toppings and accompaniments for lower salt options.

You could also try cutting down on how much bread you eat by opting for other carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, rice and couscous. Click here for some alternatives to sandwiches at lunch time

Low salt swaps for popular accompaniments bread

MealHigher salt optionsLower salt options
BreakfastSalted butter, marmite, bacon, sausageUnsalted butter, Jam/marmalade/honey, mushroom, scrambled/poached egg
Lunch – sandwich fillingsHam, cheese, salami, bacon, sausage, Pâté, smoked fish, tuna in brine, corned beefChicken, cream cheese, mozzarella, egg, salad, tuna in spring water
Lunch – sandwich spreadMustard, ketchup, pickle, pre-packaged spreads, marmite, mayonnaise, salad creamChutney, cream cheese
Lunch – hot

Soup, baked beans, spaghetti hoops, bacon, sausage

 

Homemade soup, scrambled/poached eggs, garlic mushrooms

 

Swap from high to low salt breads in your local supermarket (100g is approximately 2 slices of bread)

SupermarketHigh Salt ExampleSalt (g) / 100gLow Salt ExampleSalt (g) / 100gDifference (g)
MorrisonsThick Malted grain

1.1

The Best Seeded Loaf

0.8

0.3

ASDAOrganics Soft White Loaf

1.2

Chosen By You Square Cut White Sliced Loaf

0.8

0.4

Sainsbury'sTaste The Difference Soft Multiseed Wholemeal Farmhouse

1.06

Medium Wholemeal

0.74

0.32

TescoBaker's Soft Tasty White Thick

1.1

Stayfresh White Sliced Bread Medium

0.6

0.5

The Co-operativeTruly Irresistible Wholemeal Seeded Batch Loaf

1.0

Wholemeal Bread Medium Sliced

0.9

0.1

Waitrose

 

Love Life Heyford Sliced Bloomer Thick Sliced

1.05

Love Life Wheatgerm Bloomer Thick Sliced

0.90

0.15

M&S

 

Eat Well Multigrain Bloomer 30% Grains

1.15

Eat Well Oaty Bloomer

0.65

0.5

HovisHearty Oats

1.07

Best of Both Medium

0.88

0.19

Warburtons

 

Seeded Batch

1.08

Wholegrain Goodness with Sunflower Seeds

0.98

0.1

KingsmillLove to Toast White Toastie Thick

1.08

The Really Seeded One

0.80

0.28