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by Robert MacKay, Monday, December 3, 2012 | Categories: General Health

Recent research from the health pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) indicates that the levels of salt in cheese are higher than previously thought. Given the widespread use of cheese in most individuals’ weekly diet, there has been an abundance of articles providing views on these findings from both CASH and the Department of health as well as explaining how important it is to be aware of these levels of salt.

The research, which was conducted over a period of four months, looked at the amount of salt in a standard 30 gram portion of 772 cheeses from various supermarkets including Waitrose and Morrisons. Among the cheeses considered, cheddar had high levels of salt with an average of .52 grams of salt per 30 gram portion, whereas mozzarella and emmenthal cheeses had the lowest amounts of salt. Based on the findings the researchers recommended that individuals aim to choose healthier options or smaller portions of less healthy cheeses. They also urged that the Department of Health puts further pressure on cheese manufacturers to lower the target levels of salt in cheeses they produce.

We are not surprised to find that this topic has been so widely reported, as there are many risk factors associated with a diet with intake of salt such as increased blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. However, the department of health is currently tackling the high levels of salt in foods through the “Responsibility Deal” and by creating a new food labelling system.

We feel that it is valuable to be aware of the high levels of salt found in various foods, but that a product should not be judged by the amount of one ingredient alone. Cheese contains protein, vitamins and many important minerals such as calcium and should not be excluded from a person’s diet unless there is a good reason for this advice. However, as we do agree that it is important that consumers always aim for a balanced diet and eat smaller portions or choose healthier options where possible.

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