Salads Topped with Secret Salt

Choosing a salad, especially in summer, seems like the healthy option. However, this isn’t always the case as our survey of 650 ready-to-eat salads revealed that 77% contained more salt than a packet of crisps! We found wide variation in the amount of salt added to salads in both out of home and supermarkets. Some contained as little as 0g of salt whilst others were found to contain almost a whole day’s worth. We are all on average eating too much salt (8.1g) compared with the maximum recommended intake of 6g. A high salt intake can lead to water retention, commonly felt as bloating and more seriously can raise blood pressure, the main cause of strokes and heart attacks.

Here are some examples of out of home salads with the highest amount of salt:

        - Pizza Express ‘Grand Chicken Caesar Salad’ 5.3g salt/serving
        - Pizza Express ‘Warm Vegetable & Goats Cheese Salad’ 5g salt/serving
        - Wagamama ‘Lobster Super Salad’ 4.5g salt/serving
        - Nando’s ‘Mediterranean Salad with Chicken Breast’  4.00g salt/serving

Examples of supermarket salads with the highest amount of salt include:

        - Morrisons ‘Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad’ 2.8g salt/290g serving
        - Marks & Spencer ‘Chicken, Bacon & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.58g salt/380g serving
        - Boots ‘Delicious Simply Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.25g salt/300g serving
        - John West ‘Light Lunch Moroccan Style Salmon Salad’ 2.2g salt/220g serving

The salads with much less salt added included a mixture from both restaurants and supermarkets, for example

        - Boots Shapers ‘Moroccan Style Roasted Vegetable Salad’ 0.5g/225g serving
        - Caffè Nero ‘Chicken Salad with Caesar Dressing (with dressing)’ 0.5g/178g serving
        - Waitrose ‘Refreshing & Delicate Quinoa & Sugar Snap Pea Salad’ 0.51g/170g serving

Salads are a great source of fibre as well as providing many vitamins & minerals. However, some can contain large amounts of salt. CASH Nutritionist Steph Tucker provides some tips on choosing healthy low-salt salads

When Eating Out:

  • Ask for dressings (many of which are high in salt) to be served separately so that you can pour on the amount you want.
  • Limit salty ingredients such as cheese (e.g. halloumi, feta, parmesan), olives, anchovies, sundried tomatoes, capers, bacon, ham, chorizo & smoked salmon.
  • Opt for fresh ingredients e.g. grilled meats & vegetables.    
  • A lack of nutrition labelling on menus makes it difficult to compare. You can often check the nutrition values online before you go or you can contact them requesting this information.
  • Don’t add extra salt at the table! 

When Shopping at Supermarkets:

  • Check the labels! Use SaltSwitch to check whether the salad is high, medium or low in salt & to see if there are healthier alternatives available.
  • Are the portion sizes realistic? Are the front-of-pack labels for a tablespoon or are they for the whole pack? Think about what you’re most likely to eat.
  • For additional extras such as ready-made falafel, pesto, hummus, coleslaw, salad dressings & mayonnaise, check the labels as they can be high in salt.

When Making Your Own:

Homemade salads needn’t be dull! There are so many different ways to jazz up a salad, without adding salt. Try some of our ideas below:

  • Don’t over rely on iceberg lettuce! Use a variety of vegetables such as beetroot, butternut squash, sweet potato, corn-on-the-cob, broad beans, avocado, asparagus, watercress & courgettes.      
  • Go fruity! Contrast sweet & savoury flavours by combining mango & prawns; sultanas & dried apricots in couscous; apple, celery & pecan nuts; fresh figs & mozzarella; pear & walnuts or add watermelon to Greek salad. 
  • Add cooked meats or fish marinated in lemon, ginger, garlic, chilli, lime, herbs or spices.
  • Use salads to boost your omega 3 intake! Add oily fish such as mackerel, trout or salmon.
  • Go global! Combine flavours to make Moroccan, Asian, Mediterranean, Caribbean style salads.
  • Herbs add extra flavour: try a mixture of basil, parsley, tarragon, coriander, mint, chives or oregano. Add with a squeeze of lemon to natural yogurt to make a simple dressing or simply add a drizzle of olive oil.
  • A sprinkle of nuts e.g. pine nuts, seeds or homemade croutons (ideal for using up stale bread) will add an extra crunch!
  • Salads needn’t cost the earth! Classic store-cupboard items such as tinned tuna (in spring water), boiled eggs & tofu are great additions. Beans add texture & protein to your salad, so try using a mixture of cooked unsalted cannellini, pinto, chickpeas, black eye & butterbeans, as well as quinoa, lentils, giant couscous or pearl barley. Add brown rice, wholegrain pasta or potatoes in their skins, cooked in unsalted water, to boost your fibre intake.

For more ideas and a range of delicious recipes, click here.