Processed foods contain too much salt
The salt content in many processed foods is clearly too high, according to a recent report by the Stiftung Warentest. The salt is often found in products that hardly taste salty and are therefore not recognized by consumers as salty foods. Warentest warns that eating too much salt can have serious long-term consequences for health.
Adults should consume around six grams of salt a day at most, which is roughly the equivalent of a teaspoon, according to the recommendation of the German Nutrition Society (DGE). Most Germans, however, exceed this recommended daily ration considerably and expose themselves to unnecessary health risks. "Most of the salt does not trickle into the food from the consumer hand, but comes from processed food," reports the "Stiftung Warentest". In a current test, the foundation has therefore identified the particularly saline foods in order to give consumers the opportunity to better control their salt consumption.
Salt consumption by Germans too high The average salt consumption in Germany is 6.5 grams daily for women and nine grams daily for men, well above the recommended maximum daily dose, reports the Stiftung Warentest. However, consumers have little opportunity to directly regulate their salt consumption, since they only add 20 percent of their daily consumption to food, according to the results of the current test. As a result, as much as 80 percent of the salt ingested comes from foods that have already been processed and whose high salt content is often not even noticeable. The Stiftung Warentest examined 74 processed foods such as "baked rolls, fish sticks, smoked salmon, red cabbage and frozen pizza" and found some of them to be terrifyingly high in salt.
Largest salt recordings about bread rolls and bread The Germans ingest the most salt by far according to Stiftung Warentest about bread and rolls. Almost a third of the salt consumed daily is in the baked goods. For example, a bread roll contains more than a gram of salt, two slices of toast are at least 0.8 grams, reports the Stiftung Warentest. If the topping is added, the recommended maximum daily dose of six grams may already be reached at breakfast. According to the Stiftung Warentest, the “salt bombs” also include ready meals. One portion of pasta contains around 3.5 grams of salt. A frozen pizza adds up to a total of five grams of salt, which means that after the pizza, the recommended maximum daily dose of the DGE would almost be reached. According to the Stiftung Warentest, fish products contained an extraordinary amount of salt, with, for example, a portion of matjes fillet that supplies the body with almost eight grams of salt, which is significantly above the recommended maximum daily salt intake.
Health consequences of excessive salt consumption For consumers, this salt overdose can have devastating consequences, since the salt can cause long-term narrowing of the blood vessels, which in turn cause high blood pressure. This also increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. There is also a risk of kidney disease because the organs are simply overwhelmed with the breakdown of the salt. Too high salt consumption tends to have a life-shortening effect, according to nutritionists and medical experts. People with an already weakened cardiovascular system should be particularly careful here. Against this background, the high salt content in the tested “food on wheels” was extremely critical. According to Stiftung Warentest, the food that was also delivered to old people's homes and nursing homes already contained the recommended maximum daily dose of six grams of salt in five out of six examined menus.
Alternatives to the salt bombs The Stiftung Warentest also mentions possible alternatives to the countless salt bombs. For example, oatmeal, muesli or, of course, fresh fruit are almost salt-free. The Stiftung Warentest also recommends using curry, dill or coriander instead of salt when seasoning. Here too, a flavor-enhancing effect similar to that of salt is achieved, since the essential oils of the spices give the dishes a particularly high aroma. Consumers should also select fresh, unprocessed and unspiced food when shopping, the Stiftung Warentest continues. When preparing meals in the restaurant or "eating on wheels", salting should be avoided if possible. However, consumers should not overdo salting, since the human organism relies on the sodium and chloride components it contains. Salt promotes the function of the nerves and helps regulate the water balance. The daily consumption should therefore be between three and four grams according to the recommendation of the German Nutrition Society.
Lack of labeling of the salt content of foods Since the salt content on processed foods is currently often not specified, consumers often lack the information they need when shopping. Only the identification of the sodium (Na) contained is mandatory. In theory, however, consumers can also use the sodium content to calculate how much sodium chloride a food actually contains. The salt content can be determined by multiplying the amount of sodium by 2.5. To simplify matters, Stiftung Warentest also offers a “salt calculator” that not only calculates the salt content, but also shows the percentage of the recommended maximum daily dose.
From 2016, consumers can hope for a clearer labeling of the salt content of the food, since the companies are then obliged to label the nutritional value and the amount of salt contained must also be stated. For consumers, clear identification of salinity would have the advantage of being able to see it at first glance without mental arithmetic. The possibilities of comparison would increase and consumers would be better able to control their salt consumption. The experts also believe that the new labeling requirement creates an incentive for companies in the food industry to salt their products less strongly. Until then, customers should always have a calculator at hand when shopping - or train their mental arithmetic accordingly. (fp)
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