MANY cheeses are unnecessarily loaded with salt but Wensleydale is among the lowest, according to research which identified halloumi and imported blue cheese as having the highest salt content.
Researchers found large variations in salt content among the same types of cheese. Some types of cheddar – the most popular choice among British consumers – had much higher levels of salt than others, with supermarket own brands having lower levels than branded counterparts.
The new study, published in the journal BMJ Open, examined 612 cheeses available across the UK in 2012.
Experts examined the amount of salt per 100g of cheeses available at the top seven British supermarkets.
Overall they found that salt content is high among these products, with an average of 1.7g per 100g of cheese, which prompted the researchers to call for more stringent salt reduction targets.
The authors said: “This research demonstrates that salt content in cheese in the UK is high and there is a wide variation in the salt content in different types of cheeses and even within the same type of cheese.
“These findings demonstrate that much larger reductions in the amount of salt added to cheese could be made and much more challenging targets need to be set.”
They said that a having a diet high in salt has been linked to high blood pressure – which increases a person’s risk of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure - and an increased risk of stomach cancer and obesity.
Tests on 14 products labelled as Wensleydale revealed that the average salt content per 100g was 1.1 grams – lower than 2.7g in halloumi and imported blue cheese.
A spokesman for Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, North Yorkshire, said salt content in its range of Yorkshire Wensleydale varied from 1.1g to 1.8g.
“Our cheese is a very traditional, wholesome and nutritious product which is naturally at the lower end of salt content when compared to other cheeses. Traditional Yorkshire Wensleydale is a simple product containing local milk, starter culture, rennet and salt and that’s it.
“Those with a keen eye on salt intake should balance the diet as a whole but select cheeses with a naturally lower salt content.”