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CASH Reveals the Unhealthy Side of Houmous

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CASH Reveals the Unhealthy Side of Houmous

July 28
12:00 2016

CASHThe UK’s Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has revealed several dips are potential salt and fat traps with some consisting of as much salt as four packets of ready salted crisps, according to a new study.

Widely regarded as a healthy option and a guilt-free alternative to snacks such as crisps and chocolate, a new survey by the UK’s Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), based at Queen Mary University of London, has revealed many dips are potential salt and fat traps with some containing as much salt as four packets of ready salted crisps.

The national survey looked at 210 chilled dips across all major supermarket chains including houmous, guacamole, salsa and taramasalata.

The most commonly sold dip is houmous (108 out of 210), yet it is far from the healthiest, CASH said, with a staggering 74% (80 out of 108) having a red front of pack label for fat and not one single product providing a green front of pack label for salt [REF 3]. The dip, made predominantly from chickpeas, also contains on average 280 calories per 100g – more than 10% of the recommended daily intake for women [REF 4].

One of the saltiest houmous dips was Marks & Spencer’s Caramelised Onion Houmous containing more salt per 100g (1.53g) than four packets of ready salted crisps and over a quarter of the daily maximum recommended intake for salt.

Of all the dips surveyed, taramasalata was the saltiest with an average salt content of 1.25g per 100g compared to salsa which was the least salty (average 0.49g per 100g). 100g of Marks & Spencer’s Taramasalata (1.5g) for example contains more salt than 31 Ritz crackers.

There was also a large variation in salt content within the same dip category. For example the salt content in houmous dips ranged from 0.43g per 100g (Lidl Red Pepper Houmous) to 1.6g per 100g (Tesco Caramelised Onion Houmous) – that’s saltier in comparison to 100g of KP original salted peanuts. Similarly within sour-cream based dips, the salt content ranged from 0.25g per 100g (Essential Waitrose Reduced Fat Sour Cream & Chive) to 0.75g per 100g (Asda 30% Less Fat Sour Cream & Chive Dip).

When considering the saturated fat content of most dips surveyed, worryingly over one fifth (23%) had a red front of pack label for saturates, CASH notes. Those with the highest amounts per 100g were Essential Waitrose Sour Cream and Chive dip (10.2g) and Chovi Allioli Creamy Garlic Dip (10g). Based on a standard 50g portion size, both would provide over a quarter of an adult’s Reference Intake for saturates.

“Food companies need to take action and reduce both the salt and fat content in dips,” said Sonia Pombo, Nutritionist and Campaign Manager for CASH. “The variation of different products revealed in our survey shows it can be achieved, which is why it’s equally important that we as individuals read the label carefully and opt for healthier brands. Also, remember to swap unhealthy sides with vegetables e.g. carrots, peppers and tomatoes, for added bonus.”

“Once again we demonstrate the unnecessary amounts of salt and fat being added by the food industry to what could be a healthy product,” said Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of CASH. “A diet high in salt leads to strokes and heart disease, the commonest cause of death in the UK. Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to reduce the number of people suffering, which is why it is imperative the government announce a new robust plan for reducing salt in our diet.”

CASH is a team of specialists concerned with salt and its effects on health. The group works to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet, wanting to bring about a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods that is eaten.

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