23rd January 2004
Winter warmers contribute to nation's poor health.
Despite compelling evidence that salt puts up our blood pressure and is the major cause of strokes and heart attacks, three out of four (75%) bought soups contain 1.8g or more of salt per serving and 24% of them contain over 2.5g salt in one single serving (250g). Soups are often perceived and promoted as healthy, low in fat and full of natural nutritious ingredients. Soups surveyed contained salt up to 6.2grams (over 1 teaspoon) per single serving (250g).
Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) surveyed 95 bought soups, including fresh and canned across supermarkets in South West London. This included healthy low fat varieties (9.4% of the sample) and so called healthy brand soups.
Nutritionist Penelope Gilbert said, "It is alarming to see how much salt these soups contain especially as they are being promoted as healthy. The majority of these soups contain 3 grams of salt (1/2 teaspoon of salt), per product, this is half of the day's recommended intake for an adult in just one food. "
Soup is generally not eaten alone but with some bread, croutons or a roll. A typical consumer would probably eat 2 slices of bread with their soup which would mean another 0.5g of salt per slice, adding another gram onto the 3 grams already consumed from the soup.
The greater the salt intake, the greater the risk of developing high blood pressure, the commonest cause of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks in the United Kingdom. A 6g reduction in the population's salt intake would save 35,000 lives a year and prevent a further 35,000 heart attacks and strokes that people would otherwise suffer and survive.
The range of soups surveyed varies by a 10 fold variation in the salt concentration, therefore it must be easy for manufacturers to make huge reductions. Action is needed by the food industry to reduce high salt levels in soups as part of their responsibility for improving the health of the nation.
Notes to Editors:
• The Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) is a group of medical specialists who are the UK's leading experts on the effects of salt on health. Over the last eight years, CASH has been working to reduce the amount of salt in the UK diet. Excess salt in our diet is the major cause of high blood pressure, which leads to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure- the UK's greatest killers. Salt is also related to cancer of the stomach, osteoporosis, dementia, kidney disease, asthma and fluid retention.
• The Government's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) published guidelines in May 2003 calling for adults to eat no more than 6g of salt per day (current intake is around 10-12g per day), and for children much less - dependent upon age. (www.sacn.gov.uk)
• Around 80% of our salt intake now comes from salt hidden in food, e.g. processed food, canteen meals, fast food and restaurant food.
• Already over 30% of the adult population in the UK has high blood pressure, and the proportion rapidly increases with age, i.e. 50% at 50 years, 70% at 70 years. Blood pressure is the major cause of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks.
• For healthy eating, to prevent strokes, heart attacks and cancer for both children and adults the message is clear:
- Reduce salt intake in adults to less than 6 grams per day and much smaller amounts in children, depending on age.
- Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, at least five portions a day.
- Eat less fat, particularly saturated fat.
- Eat less sugar