Health campaigners Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), have identified some popular pesto sauces containing more salt than a McDonald’s hamburger.
Worrying salt levels
One of the worst offenders is Sacla, and in particular their Italia Organic Pesto No. 5 and Italia Classic Pesto No.1, which are 30 per cent saltier than seawater. CASH highlighted that the manufacturer has increased salt levels since 2009 and it now contains 1.5g per serving (3.3g of salt per 100g), which is more than a McDonald’s hamburger. During this time period, there has been significant pressure to reduce salt levels.
As reported by the BBC, other brands were also of concern, with Napolina Green Pesto, Gino D’Acampo Pesto alla Genovese Pesto and Truly Italian Genovese Pesto all containing between 2g and 2.5g of salt per 100g. The average salt target for such sauces is 1.38g per 100g, but this research found that almost 40 per cent of products exceed this. Faring better were Tesco Reduced Fat Red Pesto, Jamie Oliver Green Pesto and Taste The Difference Pesto Alla Genovese from Sainsbury’s, which all contain less than 1g of salt per 100g.
The research also highlighted that no brands included nutrition labelling recommended by the Department of Health. In addition to the salt levels, it was found that 44 per cent of the sauces contained sufficient saturated fat to require a red label on packaging.
Try something new
Pesto is used by many parents as an easy pasta dish for their children and CASH Assistant Nutritionist Sarah Alderton said they may not be aware of quite how salty the product is. High levels of salt could increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks and developing high blood pressure as adults.
Pasta and other classic Italian dishes can be delicious and easy meals for adults and children alike, but these results show that we may need to reduce the amount of jarred pesto we use. Try having pesto in smaller portions or even trying some alternatives. It could be fun getting inspiration from TV chefs, books or a favourite restaurant in Dublin, such as http://www.forno500.ie.
A spokeswoman for Sacla was confident their sauces can still be part of a balanced diet. This could be a great opportunity to ditch your jars of pesto and try something new.