I was thinking the other day about how many well-meaning parents could be packing kids’ lunch boxes with food that contains salt and artificial preservatives. Yes, I’m looking at you soggy ham and sauce combo!
Which then lead me to ponder, how many people actually know what’s in their food? Especially food that’s marketed as a healthy alternative? I can certainly put my hand up and say I’ve been fooled with thinking certain food is nutritious when it’s not; it’s an area I’ve studied for many years!!
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner for kids or adults, there’s some easy and obvious guidelines: no chips, lollies (duh), more fruit, veggies, protein, seeds and how about swapping to wraps? Well maybe not. Not before you take a closer look at what’s in it first…
A team of researchers, led by Professor Clare Collins from the University of Newcastle, undertook an evidence-based analysis of publicly available nutrition information of 22 of Australia’s top selling wraps brands in the Wraps Unwrapped Report. These products represent 80% of the wraps purchased by Australians from major supermarkets around the country in the 12 months to 17 July 2016.
Some of the surprising findings include:
- 17 of the top 22 wraps brands were found to contain artificial preservatives
- Wraps vary in sodium levels significantly with one serve of some wraps containing six times as much salt as others (serving sizes vary between 25g and 71g). The variation between the highest salt wraps and the lowest salt wrap on a 100g basis was found to be three fold
- The market-leading brand Mission contains the highest salt levels of all the wraps studied – one serve of these wraps (48 – 71g) on average contains 561mg of sodium. That’s over one third the amount of sodium in the Australian Suggested Dietary Target, which is 1,600mg of sodium or 4g of salt per day
- The wrap with the highest salt content which also contains artificial preservatives was the Mission Zesty Garlic Herb Wrap with an alarming 920mg of sodium or more than 2g of salt per 100g (serving size 71g)
- The most popular wrap on the market, Mission Original Wraps, packs a large 790mg of sodium or almost 2g of salt per 100g (serving size 71g)
But it’s not all doom and gloom with some heroes on the market such as Helga’s.
- Swapping to a lower salt wrap like Helga’s Traditional White Wraps (430mg of sodium per 100g), from Mission Original Wraps (790mg of sodium per 100g), can reduce your salt intake by 40% per wrap with the bonus of not containing any artificial preservatives.
- Swapping Mission Original Wraps for Helga’s Traditional White Wraps would remove roughly 3.75 million teaspoons – or 150 bath tubs – of salt from the Australian food supply nationally.
Leading dietitian Susie Burrell, who reviewed the findings, explained:
“The good news is that some of the wraps included in the Wraps Unwrapped Report were found to be lower in salt and contain no artificial preservatives. Good choices for those wanting to moderate their salt intake and avoid artificial preservatives include Helga’s Traditional White Wraps (430mg sodium per 100g) and Mountain Bread Rye Wraps, which contains 408mg sodium per 100g. Wonder White Hi Fibre Wraps are also a good choice at 350mg of sodium per 100g.”
Susie urges people to check the food labels on their favourite supermarket wraps to avoid making high salt choices when they are trying to be healthy.
“Learn to read food labels and look for wraps with the lowest levels of salt. Wraps that contain around 600mg of sodium per 100g or less are considered to be moderate in salt according to the UK Food Standards Agency. Steer clear of anything over 600mg of sodium per 100g as that’s considered to be high in salt,” she says.
Of course salt and artificial preservatives are only one aspect of nutrition. The presence of whole grains, fibre, protein and low amounts of saturated fats are also important. Michelle Broom, General Manager of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) says that while less salt is important, Australians also need to eat more whole grains.
“Our studies show that more than half of Australian adults are not meeting the whole grain Daily Target Intake of 48 grams. Apart from choosing lower salt options, we would also encourage consumers to look for wraps that contain whole grains,” Michelle explained.
So now you are hopefully a little more aware of what to look out for when it comes to the salt content of wraps at the supermarket, let’s put it to good use and get cooking!! Here’s a super easy recipe that passed the taste test with flying colours!! Perfect for an afternoon get together with family and friends.
Chicken Superfood Wrap
Super in every way (just look at those colours), this is also really easy to throw together. Start with your wrap (we used Helga’s Mixed Grain Wrap) and fill to your heart’s content with roast chicken, avocado, boiled egg, cucumber and a mixed grated salad of kale, beetroot, carrot and cherry tomatoes. I dare you not to feel like a health superstar after eating this one!
 University of Newcastle, Wraps Unwrapped Report, October 2016
 AZTEC Scan Data, MAT (moving annual total) to 17 July 2016
 Mission Zesty Garlic Herb Wraps (920mg per 100g) compared to Wattle Valley Soft Wraps Lite White (250mg per 100g)
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014 Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12, cat no. 4364.0.55.007
 350mg or 40% less sodium per 100g consumed when Mission Original Wraps (790mg sodium per 100g) is swapped for Helga’s Traditional White Wraps (430mg sodium per 100g)
 2014 Grains & Legumes Consumption & Attitudinal Study