Nuts for Life collected data on the sodium content, as listed on the Nutrition Information Panel, of 158 nut products. These were sourced from the fresh produce, snacks/impulse, and baking aisles of five Sydney grocery stores (1).

Unsalted nuts: Naturally low sodium

On average, raw/natural unsalted nuts contained 5.3mg sodium/100g and unsalted dry or oil roasted nuts 6.9mg/100g – or around 2mg of sodium per 30g serve of unsalted nuts.

Salted nuts: Not as ‘salty’ as we think?

On average, oil-roasted and dry-roasted salted nuts had 291mg and 343mg sodium/100g, respectively – or around 87mg (oil roasted) and 103mg (dry-roasted) of sodium per 30g serve.

Taking this a step further, beyond ‘sodium’ to look at ‘salt’ (because chemically, ‘salt’ consists of the two elements sodium and chloride) – salted nuts contained on average 0.22-0.26g of salt per 30g serve.

Table: Sodium content of nuts

Type of nut Number of products Average sodium (mg) per 30g Average sodium (mg) per 100g
Unsalted
Raw/unsalted/natural 75 1.8 5.3
Dry roasted unsalted 13 2.3 6.9
Oil roasted unsalted 13 2.3 6.9
Salted
Dry roasted salted 15 113 343
Oil roasted salted 25 96 291
Coated/flavoured 17 113 342

Adults need 460-920mg/day of sodium to function. And the prevent chronic disease, the advice for the Australian population is to reduce our average sodium intake from the current 3,600mg/day to 2,000mg/day, to help prevent chronic disease (2).

Other findings from the audit

  • Sodium content generally ranged from 1 – 897mg/100g (however, one salted nut product – which was dry roasted and smoked – significantly exceeded this, at 1,603mg sodium/100g).
  • Three quarters (73%) of the nut products in the audit (116 of 158 products) could be classed as ‘low sodium’. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) defines this as a food with <120mg sodium per 100g (3).
  • Three quarters (74%) of salted nut products in the audit (34 of 46 products) were less than 400mg/100g. The Heart Foundation calls these ‘moderately salted foods’ and classes them as ‘ok options’ (4).
  • Among salted nuts, the amount of salt added by the manufacturer varied – with figures on the ingredient list ranging from ‘salt 0.4%’ to ‘salt 3%’.

Raw or roasted . . . How does this affect the sodium content?

Among unsalted nuts, our audit found that the sodium content is similar, whether these are raw, dry roasted or oil roasted. With salted nuts, on average, dry-roasted nuts had slightly more sodium than oil-roasted nuts. 

For more information on this Nuts for Life audit, please contact us at admin@nutsforlife.com.au

References

  1. Nuts for Life. Audit of the salt and fat content of tree nuts. September 2020. Unpublished.
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. 2006. Available at: http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/sodium (accessed December 2020)
  3. Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
  4. (4) Heart Foundation. Salt and heart health. Available at: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/heart-health-education/salt-and-heart-health (accessed December 2020)
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