A new survey shows more than one-third of breads have too much salt content.
For those looking to improve their diets, reducing salt intake is often a major consideration. But though some foods are obviously high in sodium—processed meats, potato chips, ramen noodles—salt has a way of ending up in other, less obvious foods as well. In fact, a new survey from the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) in London recently found that more than one-third of bread brands contain more salt than the U.K.’s recommended maximum target.
WASH looked at more than 2,000 white, whole wheat, mixed grain, and flat breads from 32 countries and regions, and found that 34 percent had more salt than the U.K.’s recommended 1.13 grams per 100 grams target. Specifically, 44 percent of white breads exceeded this limit. And though mixed grain breads had the lowest salt content of any of the categories, WASH still warns that their findings included “a huge variation,” with one Bulgarian bread packing as much salt as seawater.
For Americans, the good news is that U.S. brands seemed to perform relatively well compared to their international counterparts. WASH ranks breads as either “red,” “orange” or “green,” and only one American product, Grissom’s Mill Round Top White Enriched Bread landed a red warning. Still, plenty of products from well-known brands landed in the “orange” category, including breads from Pepperidge Farm, Whole Foods, Market Pantry and Arnold—just to highlight some big names. Meanwhile, the old standby of Wonder Classic White Bread performed surprisingly well, with just 0.79 grams of salt per 100 gram serving—enough to earn the bread an “orange” rating, but still make it one of the best American performers. Overall, of the more than 40 American products WASH looked at, none were given a green rating. Only 30 products received “green” status worldwide. (You can find a link to the full list on the WASH website.)
The big takeaway seems to be that we need to consider our bread choices as well as what we put on those slices if we’re really committed to reducing our salt intakes. “Our survey has shown that many bread manufacturers internationally are still adding huge and unnecessary amounts of salt to their products,” Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiology at Queen Mary, University of London, and WASH chairman, said in a statement. “Governments must act now and reinvigorate salt reduction work in the food industry.”