Have Lower Levels of Salt in Bread Contributed to UK Health?

Supermarket packaged bread may be more beneficial to your wellness than ever, as a new study has found that the average salt content in such bread has fallen by 20% over the last decade. Bread is the biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet, but the study, published in the online journal BMJ Open, found that your wellness may be more secure from the damaging impact of salt, as salt levels in packaged bread in supermarkets across the UK fell from 1.23g per 100g in 2001, to 0.98g per 100g in 2011.


‘This study shows that the salt content of bread has been progressively reduced over time, contributing to the evidence base that a target-based approach to salt reduction can lead to reductions being made,’ the study authors, from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, explained. ‘A wide variation in salt levels was found, with many products already meeting the 2012 targets, indicating that further reductions can be made. This requires further progressive lower targets to be set, so that the UK can continue to lead the world in salt reduction and save the maximum number of lives.’


Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, commented, ‘A reduction in population salt intake is one of the most cost-effective measures to improve public health, as lowering salt intake lowers blood pressure and reduces the number of people suffering and dying from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. Bread is the single biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet and it is vital that we set challenging targets for the bread industry in order to save the maximum number of lives.’


According to a spokesman from the Department of Health, ‘Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. So we are really pleased that there has been a 20 per cent reduction in the amount of salt in bread and are continuing to work with industry, through the Responsibility Deal, to help people reduce their salt intake. Many foods contain higher levels of salt than we might expect so it’s important to check the label. To make it easy for everyone to keep track of what they eat and make healthier choices, we will soon be announcing a simple and clear system for front-of-pack labelling that everyone can use to help people make healthier choices.’

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