Do you know how much salt is in pesto?
Most of us rely on pesto more than we'd care to admit, but with one study revealing that some brands contain astonishing levels of salt, we're giving pesto pasta a much-needed time out
A world without pesto is one we'd rather not imagine. But if your family dinners have fallen into a distinctive pesto pattern (we've all been there), these latest findings might come as a bit of a shock.
A survey carried out by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health has found that certain brands contain dangerous levels of salt. Some are 30% saltier than seawater, and contain a whopping 2.5 times more salt per 100g than salted peanuts – with the UK's best-selling brand Sacla increasing the salt in its Classic Basil pesto by as much as 18% since 2009.
According to Sonia Pombo, Nutritionist and Campaign Manager at CASH, ''salt is the forgotten killer: it puts up our blood pressure, leading to thousands of unnecessary strokes and heart attacks every year.'' And it's not just salt which poses a problem; almost half of the pestos surveyed contained half a day's recommended saturated fat intake in just one serving.
This is pretty bad news for pesto-dependent parents everywhere – but all is not lost:
''Switching from a high to lower salt option could really help to reduce your salt intake,'' says Sarah Alderton, Assistant Nutritionist at CASH. ''Consider having pesto in smaller portions, less frequently, or try other pasta sauces lower in salt and fat instead.''
CASH say that pestos with lower levels of salt include Jamie Oliver Green Pesto, Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Pesto Alla Genovese, and Waitrose Pesto Alla Genovese.
And if you're really keen to reduce your family's salt intake without ditching the pesto, you could start making your own. It's not half of much of a faff as you'd think – try our recipe over here.