As you can tell by it tasting so damn good, hot chocolate really isn’t good for you. However, while you’re probably most wary of the sugar content, a new piece of research says it’s the salt content that could be the “forgotten killer”. Unfortunately, the same is true for many other foods and drinks, including some brands of vegetarian burgers, instant noodles, butter, and canned foods.
A new survey by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) in the UK set out to find whether manufacturers and retailers are on target to meet the 2017 Salt Reduction Targets set by the UK government’s Public Health England.
They discovered that just one out of the 28 food categories surveyed – ranging from canned vegetables and pasta sauces to pizzas and breakfast cereals – are on track, with only nine months until the targets come into action.
They found one brand of hot chocolate powder, Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate, had 2.5 grams of salt per 100 grams. This is more more than some packets of chips. Of course, the hot chocolate is just dry weight, so you would reduce this concentration down with milk or water. However, it would still mean you’re consuming 0.8 grams of salt per serving.
One brand of chips, Salt & Vinegar Chiplets from Marks & Spencers, contained 2.8 grams per 100 grams. Another brand of packaged fish, Fishmonger Piri Piri Smoked Mackerel Fillets from Aldi, contained 3.8 grams of salt per 100 grams.
The main peril of over-consuming salt is that it can increase your blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart disease and strokes. Adults should generally not eat more than 6 grams of salt a day. Despite this warning, most people in the UK currently eat around 8 grams a day.
“This is a national scandal,” said Professor Graham MacGregor of Queen Mary University of London Cardiovascular Medicine department in a statement.
“Salt is the forgotten killer," added Katharine Jenner, a registered nutritionist and campaign director for CASH. “The findings from our FoodSwitch shopping basket survey are alarming and we are shocked to see that many food manufacturers and retailers are still failing to meet the salt reduction targets, despite having had years to work towards them. We congratulate the other, more responsible manufacturers that have successfully achieved them, or are on track to meet them by the end of the year – which shows it is possible. With only nine months to go, action must be taken now.”