We all know that too much salt in our diets can lead to several adverse health effects, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and an increased risk for strokes. But with that said, we also know how to avoid eating too much salt, right? We regularly skip the obvious offenders like chips, popcorn, and pretzels, we read the labels on the foods we buy at the grocery store, and we don’t pick up the salt shaker when we dine out.
So we’re good, right? Well, maybe.
According to research conducted at The George Institute for Global Health, many of the loaves of so-called “healthy” bread we eat contain more than one-third of the recommended daily intake of salt—in just two slices.
From 2010 to 2017, the institute’s researchers analyzed over 1,435 different types of bread products, including loaves, rolls, croissants, English muffins, tortillas, flatbreads, crumpets, bagels and wraps. At the conclusion of the study, researchers determined that nearly all the bread products contained hidden amounts of excess salt. Rye bread was determined to be the worst culprit, with an average of 20 percent more salt per loaf. Rye bread is a staple in countries like Germany, Russia, Poland, and Norway. It’s also regularly enjoyed by millions of Americans.
While the study’s lead author, public health nutritionist Clare Farrand, says the study also determined salt levels in bread products have continually declined over the years, too many commonly eaten breads still contain levels of salt that are simply too high. “We know that excess salt in our diet increases blood pressure and the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, so our findings are incredibly worrying, especially as many of the products that have the highest levels of salt are perceived by families as being the healthiest,” says Farrand.
In addition to rye, flatbreads, wraps and tortillas also had unnecessarily high levels of salt. On average, these “healthier” choices contained one-third more salt than white bread. Per the results of the study:
--> The loaves of bread with the highest levels of salt are Schwob’s Dark Rye (just one slice contains more than double the amount of salt in a serving of potato chips) and Artisan Baker Bowan Island’s Whole Meal Sourdough, which has three times the amount of salt than other sourdough breads.
--> The flatbread with the highest level of salt is Mission Chapattis Garlic, which has 2.3 grams of salt per serving—23 times more salt than other flatbread (although only 34 percent of all flatbread passed the salt test.)
--> Not a single crumpet came in under the recommended amount of salt per serving.
The results of the study were released in accordance with the 10th Annual World Salt Awareness Week, March 20 – 26, 2017. While it’s important to take salt consumption into consideration, “it’s also worth noting these breads are a good source of fiber. Our advice is to look for high fiber breads that are also low in salt,” says Farrand.
If you’re concerned about your salt intake, our Smart for Life cookies, cupcakes, protein bars, and other foods contain healthy amounts of fiber without any excess salt.