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Aussie Study of 700 Plant-Based Food Products Sees Salt Emerging as Ingredient Culprit

A comprehensive nutritional audit of over 700 plant-based food products in Australian supermarkets has shed light on their health implications, with findings indicating significant variations in salt and saturated fat content among these alternatives.

Conducted by researchers from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Melbourne's, Deakin University, the review covered a broad range of meat and dairy substitutes, including 236 meat substitutes, 169 legumes and pulses, and various non-dairy milk, cheese, and yogurt alternatives.

Plant-based chicken burger

Source: Public Domain -Plant-based chicken burger

Key findings from the study have raised concerns over the high levels of sodium present in many plant-based meats, with some products containing enough salt to meet an individual's entire daily recommended intake in just one serving. This trend towards saltier plant-based meats appears to be on the rise when compared to previous audits. On the brighter side, a majority of the plant-based milks evaluated were fortified with calcium, essential for bone health, marking a significant improvement over past years.

However, the study also highlighted areas for consumer caution, particularly regarding coconut-based milks, which were found to have substantially higher saturated fat contents compared to their almond, oat, or soy counterparts. Furthermore, plant-based cheese and yogurt alternatives often lacked adequate calcium content, with many products also high in sodium and saturated fat.

Plant-based products in supermarket chiller

Source: SpotlifeAsia

Researchers offer practical advice for consumers navigating the plant-based food aisle, emphasising the health benefits of choosing whole plant foods like unprocessed legumes, beans, or tofu over processed alternatives. For those opting for processed plant-based foods, they recommend closely examining nutritional labels for sodium, calcium, and saturated fat content to make healthier choices.

The study not only provides valuable insights for consumers aiming to make informed dietary choices but also highlights the need for continued improvement in the nutritional quality of plant-based food products.



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