People cutting meat out of their diets could be eating even more salt as vegetarians, experts say, as they reveal meat-free foods’ staggering salt content in a survey.
More than 60 per cent of veggie products – 97 out of 157 included – have more salt in 100g than a large portion of McDonald’s fries, which weighs 150g.
Many contain more salt than their meaty alternative and some even have higher levels of sodium than seawater.
A quarter of fake meat products have more salt than the maximum target they were supposed to have met by December 2017, the charity Action on Salt warns.
Eating too much salt can put strain on the blood vessels and heart, raising the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
The worst offender is Tofurky’s Hickory Smoked Deli Slices, an alternative to sliced ham, of which a single portion contains more salt than two large portions of fries from McDonald’s.
Tofurky’s Hickory Smoked Deli Slices and Tesco’s Meat Free Bacon Style Rashers are the worst offenders in Action on Salt’s research, with both containing three times more salt than a large portion of McDonald’s fries, and more salt than seawater from the Atlantic Ocean
The market for plant-based foods is growing as more and more Brits cut meat out of their diets for environmental, ethical or health reasons.
But Action on Salt warns many of these processed foods carry their own health risks because of the sometimes surprisingly high salt content.
Nutritionist at Action on Salt, Mhairi Brown, said: ‘Research has highlighted that we must reduce the amount of meat we eat to reduce the negative impact of climate change.
‘The food industry have ensured greater availability of meat-free alternatives, but now they must do more to ensure that meat free alternatives contain far less salt – at the very least lower than their meat equivalents.
‘This survey drives home the urgent need for Public Health England to reinvigorate the UK’s salt reduction strategy.’
The charity says many meat-free products, including the well-known Linda McCartney range, do not carry traffic light labels on the front, which would highlight and warn consumers about the the high salt levels in red.
Campaigners say the ‘health halo’ surrounding the meat alternatives is not a fair representation of what they really contain.
Their survey found the saltiest of the products – Tofurky’s Hickory Smoked Deli Slices and Tesco’s Meat Free Bacon Style Rashers – both contain much more salt per 100g than seawater.
Water from the Atlantic ocean contains the equivalent to 2.5g of salt per 100g, they said, while the Tofurky slices had 3.5g and Tesco’s meat-free bacon has 3.2g.
THE 10 SALTIEST MEAT ALTERNATIVES (Salt per 100g)
- Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices (3.5g)
- Tesco Meat Free 8 Bacon Style Rashers (3.2g)
- VBites Cheatin’ Rashers (2.1g)
- Quorn 4 Best of British Sausages (1.9g)
- The Vegetarian Butcher No Chicken Chunks (1.9g)
- Quorn 2 Quarter Pounders (1.8g)
- The Vegetarian Butcher Mc2 Vegetarian Burger (1.8g)
- Linda McCartney’s 2 Vegetarian Pulled Pork 1/4lb Burgers (1.8g)
- Quorn Smokey Ham Free Slices (1.7g)
- VBites Cheatin’ Ham Style Slices (1.7g)
Source: Action on Salt
THE 10 LEAST SALTY MEAT ALTERNATIVES (Salt per 100g)
- Tesco Meat Free Mince (0.2g)
- Goodlife Spicy Veg Beanburgers with a kick of chipotle chilli (0.29g)
- Quorn Mince (0.3g)
- Marks & Spencer Veggie Roasted Mushroom & Onion Pie (0.35g)
- Morrisons 2 Melt in the Middle Sweet Potato & Three Bean Bakes (0.35g)
- Asda Vegetarian 2 Mushroom & Spinach Cheese Melts (0.37g)
- Morrisons 2 Melt in the Middle Spiced Sweet Potato Bakes (0.38g)
- Tesco 2 Vegetarian Mushroom & Camembert Pies (0.4g)
- Morrisons Meat Free Vegetable Quarter Pounders (0.4g)
- Morrisons Meat Free Glamorgan Sausages (0.4g)
Source: Action on Salt
And the salt content in an average meat-free burger was 0.89g per portion, which is higher than the 0.75g found in a real supermarket beefburger.
Of the product types, meat-free bacon has the highest average salt content per 100g across the 157 products surveyed, with 2.03g.
Meat-free sliced meat came second with an average of 1.56g of salt per 100g.
Looking at the figures on a per portion basis, vegetarian kievs were the saltiest at 1.03g, which is higher than in a large portion of McDonald’s fries, which has 0.82g.
A portion of meat-free sausages came in at 0.96g and even plain meat-free pieces and fillets, which can be turned into a range of dishes, were 0.87g.
SALT DAMAGES THE BODY AND RAISES THE RISK OF EARLY DEATH
Salt damages the heart and blood vessels and the brain by affecting how well the body distributes water and other fluids.
The balance of fluids and sodium in the body is crucial to homeostasis, which keeps systems operating in sync.
When there is too much sodium in our systems, our bodies retain excess fluid to try to balance out the salt.
Cells which are swollen up with retained water mean the volume of blood becomes higher so the heart has to work harder to pump it, leading to higher blood pressure.
High blood pressure, in turn, raises the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Higher blood pressure also makes it more difficult for the heart to push oxygen-carrying blood to various organs, including the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline.
Some 32 of the products had no front of pack colour-coded labelling.
And around one in five of the products had no recommended portion size, making it hard for consumers to gauge their daily salt intake.
The campaigners said that just three of all the products surveyed were low in salt, which means they had 0.3g per 100g or less.
Chairman of Action on Salt, Professor Graham MacGregor from Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to reduce the number of people dying or suffering from entirely unnecessary strokes and heart disease.
‘Given the vast amounts of strokes and heart disease that could be avoided and huge savings to the NHS, it is incomprehensible that Public Health England are not doing more to reduce the amount of salt in our food.
‘We are again calling on PHE to take urgent action.’
The UK’s salt reduction programme, devised by Action on Salt and the Food Standards Agency, has slowly lowered the amount of salt added to foods.
This has led to a fall in population salt intake of 1.5g per day since 2003.
It is estimated that every 1g reduction in the nation’s average salt intake prevents 7,000 deaths a year from strokes and heart disease.
The NHS could also save an estimated at £1.5billion a year.
The health service recommends adults don’t eat more than 6g of salt per day, and children should eat even less.
Children aged one to three should have no more than 2g salt, four to six 3g, seven to 10 5g, and those over 11 no more than 6g.
Yet a veggie burger contain more salt – 0.89g – than a meat one – 0.75g and was saltier than Salt and Vinegar flavour Pringles.
|Product Name||Salt per 100g||Salt per portion||Pack size (g)|
|Tofurky Deli Slices Hickory Smoked||3.5||1.82||156|
|Tesco Meat Free 8 Bacon Style Rashers||3.2||0.9||150|
|Quorn 4 Best of British Sausages 240g||1.9||1.06||240|
|The Vegetarian Butcher No Chicken Chunks||1.9||1.52||160|
|Quorn 2 Quarter Pounders 227g||1.8||1.87||227|
|The Vegetarian Butcher Mc2 Vegetarian Burger||1.8||na||160|
|Linda McCartney’s 2 Vegetarian Pulled Pork 1/4lb Burgers||1.8||1.75||227|
|Quorn Smokey Ham Free Slices||1.7||0.43||100|
|Cheatin’ Ham Style Slices||1.7||na||100|
|Fry’s Meat Free Chicken-Style Nuggets||1.7||1.62||380|
|Heck Veggie Sausages||1.7||1.45||255|
|Quorn Bacon Style Slices 150g||1.6||0.59||150|
|VBites VegiDeli Sage and Onion Slices 100g||1.6||na||100|
|The Vegetarian Butcher Lincolnshire Style Vegetarian Sausages||1.6||na||160|
|Linda McCartney 6 Vegetarian Red Onion & Rosemary Sausages 300g||1.6||1.47||300|
|Quorn Vegan 6 Cumberland Sausages||1.5||1.43||300|
|Quorn 2 Classic Burgers 180g||1.5||1.35||180|
|Quorn 4 Vegetarian Chicken Burgers 252g||1.5||0.9||252|
|Cauldron 2 Aduki Bean Melts||1.5||1.55||220|
|Linda McCartney 6 Vegetarian SausageS||1.5||1.34||300|
|Amy’s Kitchen Manhattan Veggie Burgers||1.4||na||270|
|Cauldron 2 Vegan Falafel Burgers||1.4||1.2||180|
|Amy’s Kitchen All American Veggie Burger||1.4||0.99||285|
|M&S Veggie Butternut Squash & Paprika Sausages||1.35||1.22||270|
|Quorn 2 Vegan Burgers||1.3||1.04||160|
|Quorn Crispy Nuggets||1.3||1.04||476|
|Quorn Chilli & Lime Sliced Fillets 140g||1.3||0.91||140|
|Quorn Fajita Strips 140g||1.3||0.87||140|
|Quorn Chicken Free Slices||1.3||0.33||100|
|Quorn Turkey & Stuffing Style Slices 100g||1.3||0.33||100|
|Vivera 2 Pumpkin Sweet Potato Burgers||1.3||1.3||200|
|Fry’s Meat Free Chicken Style Strips||1.3||1.24||380|
|Cauldron 6 Lincolnshire Vegetarian Sausages 276g||1.3||1.2||276|
|Cauldron 6 Cumberland Vegetarian Sausages||1.3||1.2||276|
|Tesco Meat Free Chicken Style Pieces||1.3||0.88||300|
|Sainsbury’s Vegetarian 9 Meat Free Hot Dog Style Sausages||1.3||0.78||270|
|Great Food Sweet Potato Burger 230g||1.26||na||230|
|M&S Veggie Roasted Mushroom & Red Onion Sausages 270g||1.25||1.13||270|
|Morrisons 6 Meat Free Sausages||1.24||1.14||300|
|Gosh! Broad Bean & Quinoa Bites||1.23||1.08||300|
|M&S Veggie Beetroot & Caramelised Onion ‘Hot Dogs’||1.23||0.98||320|
|Naturli Plant Based Burger Patties||1.2||na||200|
|Goodlife Mushroom & Spinach Kiev with a Creamy Garlic & Cheese Sauce 250g||1.2||1.43||250|
|Quorn Vegetarian Bacon 120g||1.2||0.36||120|
|Quorn 12 Sausages 504g||1.2||0.94||504|
|Quorn 6 Sausages||1.2||0.94||250|
|Quorn 4 Sweet Chilli Sausages||1.2||0.7||240|
|Tesco Meat Free Sausages||1.2||0.96||264|
|Naturli Plant Based Mince||1.2||na||400|
|Marks & Spencer Veggie Sweetcorn & Chickpea Burgers 240g||1.18||1.42||240|
|M&S Veggie Mince 180g||1.17||1.05||180|
|Sainsbury’s 8 Meat Free Burgers||1.16||1.04||454|
|Marks & Spencer Veggie Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Sausages 270g||1.15||1.04||270|
|No Bull Burgers||1.14||na||226|
|Iceland 2 Spicy Nacho Bean Burgers||1.1||na||270|
|Tesco 2 Chicken Style Cheesy Garlic Kievs||1.1||1.24||250|
|Tesco 6 Vegetarian Vegetable Burgers||1.1||1.19||340|
|Linda McCartney’s 2 Vegetarian Mushroom & Spinach Burgers 220g||1.1||1.14||220|
|Vivera 2 Beetroot Burgers||1.1||1.1||200|
|Linda McCartney 2 Mozzarella 1/4lb Burgers 227g||1.1||1.08||227|
|Quorn Thai Chicken Fillets||1.1||0.91||166|
|Quorn 2 Five Grain Fillets||1.1||0.9||180|
|Quorn Sausage Patties||1.1||0.46||168|
|Quorn Spinach and Red Pepper Slices||1.1||0.28||100|
|M&S Veggie Broccoli, Spinach & Kale ‘Hot Dogs’||1.1||0.88||320|
|Tesco 16 Meat Free Chicken Style Nuggets||1.1||0.79||320|
|Tesco Meat Free 8 Burgers||1.1||0.56||454|
|Vivera Veggie Mince||1.1||na||220|
|Marks & Spencer Veggie Edamame Bean Burgers 240g||1.08||1.3||240|
|Marks & Spencer Veggie Lentil & Beetroot Burgers||1.08||1.3||240|
|M&S Veggie Chunks 180g||1.08||0.97||180|
|Linda McCartney’s 2 Vegetarian Country Pies||1||1.83||380|
|Linda McCartney 2 Vegetarian Quarter Pounder Burgers 227g||1||1.05||227|
|Tesco Meat Free 4 Cauliflower Cheese Grills||1||0.99||397|
|Quorn 2 Crispy Fillets 200g||1||1||200|
|Quorn Dippers 320g||1||0.92||320|
|Quorn 4 Wild Garlic & Parsley Sausages||1||0.6||240|
|Quorn 4 Frankfurters 180g||1||0.45||180|
|Sainsbury’s Vegetarian 6 Meat Free Cumberland Style Sausages||1||0.8||264|
|Tesco Meat Free 9 Hot Dog Style Sausages 240g||1||0.6||240|
|Linda McCartney’s 6 Vegetarian Chorizo & Red Pepper Sausages||0.99||0.91||300|
|Birds Eye 10 Vegetable Fingers 284g||0.93*||1.06||228|
|Tesco 2 Vegetarian Monterey Jack BBQ Bean Burgers||0.9||1.18||280|
|Asda Vegetarian Spicy Bean Burgers||0.9||0.95||454|
|Tesco 4 Vegetarian Spicy Bean Burgers 454g||0.9||0.95||454|
|Asda Chosen by You Vegetarian 4 Cauliflower Cheese Crispy Grills 397g||0.9||0.84||397|
|Morrisons Meat Free Sweet Potato & Edamame Burgers||0.9||0.79||350|
|Quorn 4 Hot & Spicy Burgers||0.9||0.59||264|
|Quorn Meat Free Southern Fried Chicken Burgers 252g||0.9||0.57||252|
|Quorn Chicken Style Slices 100g||0.9||0.23||100|
|Quorn Vegetarian Ham 100g||0.9||0.23||100|
|Asda Meat Free 2 Mature Cheddar & Roast Tomato Beef Style Quarter Pounders||0.89||0.88||227|
|Asda 4 Vegetable Burgers||0.87||0.93||454|
|Asda Meat Free 8 Beef Style Burgers||0.85||0.93||454|
|Asda 2 Mexican Spicy Bean Burgers||0.84||0.77||227|
|Sainsbury’s Love Veg 4 Cheese & Spring Onion Crispbakes 454g||0.83||0.89||454|
|Product Name||Salt per 100g||Salt per portion||Pack size (g)|
|Asda 2 Mushroom & Spinach Burgers||0.81||0.75||227|
|Tesco 2 Vegetarian Mozzarella, Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Melts||0.8||1.05||280|
|Asda Vegetarian Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Sausages||0.8||0.97||270|
|Asda Beetroot & Spinach Burgers||0.8||0.86||230|
|Asda Vegetarian Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Burgers||0.8||0.86||230|
|Cauldron 6 Vegan Sausages||0.8||0.8||300|
|Waitrose Vegetarian 4 Chilli Bean Burgers 380g||0.8||0.76||380|
|Strong Roots Kale & Quinoa Burger||0.8||0.6||450|
|Strong Roots Spinach Bites||0.8||0.6||450|
|Quorn Pieces 500g||0.8||0.6||500|
|Quorn 10 Fillets 520g||0.8||0.42||520|
|Waitrose Vegetarian 2 Onion Bhaji Burgers 200g||0.77||0.75||200|
|Asda Vegetarian 2 Mushroom Crispbakes||0.76||1||280|
|Sainsbury’s 4 Vegetable Quarter Pounders||0.76||0.78||454|
|Asda Vegetarian 6 Vegetable Sausages||0.76||0.76||300|
|Aldi Mae’s Kitchen 4 Cheese & Onion Crispbakes 420g||0.76||0.75||420|
|Sainsbury’s Vegetarian 4 Spicy Bean Quarter Pounders 454g||0.75||0.86||454|
|Aldi Mae’s Kitchen 4 Spicy Bean Quarter Pounders 454g||0.75||0.79||454|
|Waitrose Frozen Vegetarian 2 Chestnut & Mushroom Grills 175g||0.75||0.66||175|
|Strong Roots Broccoli & Purple Carrot Bites||0.74||0.56||450|
|Asda 2 Cheese & Spring Onion Crispbakes||0.7||0.92||280|
|Asda Vegetarian Mushroom & Kale Sausages||0.7||0.85||270|
|Morrisons Meat Free Indian Style Quarter Pounders||0.7||0.75||454|
|Strong Roots Pumpkin & Spinach Burger||0.7||0.56||450|
|Tesco 10 Vegetarian Buffalo Cauliflower Bites||0.7||0.46||230|
|Quorn Vegetarian Steak Pie 235g||0.7||1.65||235|
|Quorn Roast Style Sliced Fillets 140g||0.7||0.49||140|
|Asda Meat Free 2 Beef Style Quarter Pounders||0.69||0.7||227|
|Asda Meat Free Popcorn Chicken||0.67||0.49||250|
|Morrisons Meat Free Vegetable Fingers||0.65||0.55||424|
|Sainsbury’s 4 Cauliflower Cheese Grills||0.64||0.55||397|
|Morrisons Meat Free Spicy Chickpea, Kale & Sweet Potato Pies||0.63||1.07||360|
|Morrisons 2 Melt in the Middle Mushroom Bakes||0.63||0.82||270|
|Waitrose Frozen Vegetarian 4 Vegetable Quarter Pounders 454g||0.63||0.71||454|
|Waitrose Vegetarian 4 Red Pepper Grills 350g||0.63||0.55||350|
|Asda Vegetarian 16 Vegetable Fingers||0.62||0.35||452|
|Asda Vegetarian Edamame Asparagus & Mint Burgers||0.6||0.65||230|
|Tesco Meat Free 4 Vegetable Quarter Pounders||0.6||0.64||454|
|Oumph The Chunk||0.6||na||280|
|Sainsbury’s Meat Free Mince||0.57||0.44||500|
|Marks & Spencer Veggie Two Vegetable Kievs 310g||0.55||0.85||310|
|Morrisons Meat Free Kievs with Garlic Butter||0.5||0.58||246|
|Tesco 2 Vegetarian Peanut & Avocado Burgers||0.5||0.54||227|
|Morrisons Meat Free Spicy Bean Burgers 4 Pack 454g||0.5||0.51||454|
|Iceland 4 Vegetable Burgers||0.5||0.38||320|
|Sainsbury’s 16 Vegetable Fingers||0.49||0.39||452|
|Morrisons Meat Free Mince||0.49||0.63||400|
|Aldi Mae’s Kitchen 4 Vegetable Quarter Pounders 454g||0.46||0.49||454|
|Asda Meat Free Mince||0.46||0.52||454|
|Nestle Simply Mince||0.43||0.34||480|
|Tesco 2 Vegetarian Mushroom & Camembert Pies||0.4||0.65||360|
|Morrisons Meat Free Vegetable Quarter Pounders||0.4||0.41||454|
|Morrisons Meat Free Glamorgan Sausages||0.4||0.36||300|
|Morrisons 2 Melt in the Middle Spiced Sweet Potato Bakes||0.38||0.5||270|
|Asda Vegetarian 2 Mushroom & Spinach Cheese Melts||0.37||0.45||260|
|Marks & Spencer Veggie Roasted Mushroom & Onion Pie 400g||0.35||1.4||400|
|Morrisons 2 Melt in the Middle Sweet Potato & Three Bean Bakes||0.35||0.46||270|
|Quorn Mince 500g||0.3||0.23||500|
|Goodlife Spicy Veg Beanburgers with a kick of chipotle chilli||0.29||0.32||454|
|Tesco Meat Free Mince||0.2||0.23||454|