'Healthy' dips are actually salt, fat and calorie traps, study finds

Many apparently healthy snacking dips are "salt and fat traps" loaded with calories, according to a study.

Three-quarters of houmous products (74%) have a traffic light label red warning for fat, while Asda's taramasalata contains as much salt as 13 Ritz crackers, the survey by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) found.

The survey of 210 chilled dips from all the major supermarket chains found taramasalata was the saltiest with an average salt content of 1.25g per 100g compared with salsa which was the least salty, containing an average 0.49g per 100g.

The most commonly sold dip is houmous, but not one of the 108 products in the survey carried a green label for salt.

The dip, made predominantly from chickpeas, also contains on average 280 calories per 100g - more than 10% of the recommended daily intake for women, Cash found.

One of the saltiest houmous dips was Tesco's Caramelised Onion Houmous (1.6g per 100g), while Marks & Spencer's version of the same product contained 1.53g per 100g, the equivalent of more than four packets of ready salted crisps.

NHS guidelines say adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day.

Other products with high levels of salt per 100g identified by the survey include M&S taramasalata (1.5g) and Moorish Baba Ghanoush-ish Aubergine Smoked Dip (1.4g).

Products containing lower levels included Essential Waitrose Reduced Fat Sour Cream and Chive Dip (0.25g), The Co-operative Salsa (0.3g), Tesco Tzatziki (0.4g) and Waitrose Creamy and Refreshing Guacamole (0.4g).

More than one fifth of the dips surveyed (23%) had a red front-of-pack label for saturates, with both the Essential Waitrose Sour Cream and Chive dip containing 10.2g and the Chovi Allioli Creamy Garlic Dip containing 10g, providing more than a quarter of an adult's recommended intake based on a standard 50g portion size.

A portion of the Waitrose Cheese and Chive dip contains more total fat than a Big Mac, Cash said.

Professor Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Cash, said: "Once again we demonstrate the unnecessary amounts of salt and fat being added by the food industry to what could be a healthy product.

"A diet high in salt leads to strokes and heart disease, the commonest cause of death in the UK.

"Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to reduce the number of people suffering, which is why it is imperative the Government announce a new robust plan for reducing salt in our diet. "

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