The urge to snack is simply irresistible and can sprout at any given time. Even the most careful eaters complain of hunger cravings at odd hours. There are a number of healthy snacks available in the market today for health-conscious individuals. These are said to be healthier than the bag of chips or crisps that one would usually binge on. However, a recent survey has revealed that these so-called 'healthy' snacks actually contain high quantities of salt, sugar and fat. Believe it or not, 55% of the products studied as part of the survey were high in salt, sugar and/or fat.
Action on Salt UK has released the findings in a survey as part of its ongoing Salt Awareness Week program from 8th to 14th March, 2021. As part of the survey, 119 dried and roasted snacks were analysed by the Action on Salt research team based at Queen Mary University in London. Although these snacks were, on an average, lower in saturated fat and calories, almost 43% were also high in salt. They also found that these snacks could actually be made with less salt, as shown in a data chart comparing the high-salt snacks with their lower-salt counterparts.
The survey also found that 81% products included a nutrient-based claim on their pack, such as 'less fat' or 'no added sugar'. Almost all the products surveyed also made claims like 'gluten-free', 'vegan' or 'no artificial preservatives'. "The majority of products do not display colour coded nutrition information on front of pack as per government guidance. Instead, most products feature on-pack nutrition claims, which, whilst legal, mislead consumers by creating a distorted 'health halo' and discouraging shoppers from scrutinising the ingredients more thoroughly," read the report.
The researchers are calling for restriction on the use of health claims and misleading nutrition facts on the snacks marketed as being healthy. "This important survey has put a spotlight on the unnecessary amounts of salt in 'healthy' snacks, and the use of nutrition claims on HFSS foods need to be questioned. Instead of misleading their customers, companies should be doing all they can to help us all make more informed decisions, including using front of pack colour coded labels," said Sonia Pombo, Campaign Manager at Action on Salt.
Sheena Bhageerutty, Assistant Nutritionist at Action on Salt adds, "During lockdown many of us have been reaching for a snack more frequently and are often oblivious to exactly what is in our favourite food. But taste doesn't have to just mean salt; there are lots of other delicious flavours out there that won't harm your health."
About Aditi AhujaAditi loves talking to and meeting like-minded foodies (especially the kind who like veg momos). Plus points if you get her bad jokes and sitcom references, or if you recommend a new place to eat at.