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Thinking of having pesto for dinner? You may want to reconsider
Posted on 08/10/2017

HealthUnited Kingdom

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Pesto is a much-loved everyday product found in the fridges of families across the country. It's perceived as being a fairly healthy sauce, containing basil, garlic, pine nuts and pecorino cheese, but a recent health survey has in fact branded pesto as the ultimate culprit in terms of hidden excess salt.

Pesto is not as healthy as you might think

Pesto is not as healthy as you might  think

These salt statistics come as quite a surprise given that currently the UK government is leading a health campaign to reduce additional salt in food-stuffs. Numerous salt reduction targets that were originally set out are not being met across a wide range of foods, not just pesto. CASH chairman Graham MacGregor, quoted within The Guardian, has voiced his frustration exclaiming "The UK was leading the world in salt reduction, but so far, PHE [Public Health England] is doing little to ensure that the 2017 salt targets are met, and has not confirmed that they are setting new targets to be achieved by 2020."

New research conducted by CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health), indicates that UK supermarkets are selling pesto sauces with an alarmingly high percentage of salt. CASH collected data from 75 pesto sauces and whilst some fared better than others, the survey's findings proved excess salt was a common denominator amongst them all. Research carried out by CASH also demonstrated that salt levels within certain brands of the humble pesto have even increased since they were last measured.

Some of the survey's findings are truly shocking. 'Sacla' the UK's most popular brand of pesto contains 30% more salt than the percentage found in seawater. Sacla pesto exceeds 1.5 g of salt per 47.5g serving, which equates to more than what is found in a MacDonald's burger! For another astounding statistic, there is also double the amount of salt in Sacla pesto than is found in a 100g packet of salted peanuts.

For those now concerned about their salt intake, nutritionist at CASH, Sarah Alderton, quoted by the BBC, advises pesto lovers to "consider having pesto in smaller portions, less frequently or try other pasta sauces lower in salt and fat instead."