Healthy living

Coffee shop treats saltier than 5 bags of crisps

Coffee shop treats have more salt than 5 bags of crisps Are your favourites on the list?

After a busy day you may enjoy a sweet treat from the nearest coffee chain store - but this indulgence may lead you to consume a great deal of salt, a survey found.

For instance, a luxury fruit scone from Caffè Nero contains as much salt (2.1g) as a McDonald’s Big Mac - and if you wash the scone down with a Caffè Nero Hot Chocolate you'll be swigging another 0.33g of salt - the combined amount as you would get if you ate 5 bags of crisps!

But other chains such as Eat, Prêt A Manger and McDonald's also add lots of salt to sweet treats and drinks.

Top 10 saltiest treats

ChainTreatSalt (g)
Caffè NeroLuxury Fruit Scone2.1
McDonald'sLow fat Blueberry Muffin1.7
EAT Chocolate Cookie1.575
EATMuesli Cookie1.575
Prêt A MangerChoc Bar1.528
StarbucksBerry Scone1.51
Caffè NeroChocolate Fudge Cake1.29
Caffè NeroPassion Cake1.14
McDonald'sDouble Chocolate Muffin1.1
Prêt A MangerDouble Berry Muffin1.05

Deadly muffins

In general the worst category of treat was the humble muffin - for instance a McDonald’s Low Fat Blueberry Muffin with a Regular Latte contains more salt than a Bacon & Egg McMuffin with a regular White Coffee.

As many as 85% (23 of the total 27) of muffins surveyed were found to contain more salt than a packet of crisps compared to only 9% (1 out of 11) of the surveyed cupcakes.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine said: "It is absurd that a sweet muffin contains more salt than a Bacon and Egg McMuffin". Professor MacGregor is also chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), which commissioned the survey.

Salty drinks

A surprising number of sweet drinks also contained high levels of salt, with hot chocolates being amongst the worst offenders. Hot chocolates from McDonald's, Caffè Nero and Starbucks all contained at least 0.25g per portion.

But it's not all bad news. Compared with a similar survey in 2008, the average salt content of muffins and pastries has been reduced by a quarter. And most chains have products which are low in fat and suitable alternatives to the most salty treats.

"Swapping salty treats for others with less salt, often available at the same cafe, is a really good step to take to reduce your salt intake - unfortunately there is almost no nutritional information available in store, making it very hard for people to make a healthy choice," said CASH Nutritionist Hannah Brinsden.

Top coffee house treat tips

  • Go for a filter coffee or a tea and add your own milk to keep the salt to a minimum
  • Go for cupcakes instead of muffins
  • Avoid pastries which also tend to be high in saturated fat
  • If you want to opt for a lower salt option, the best choice is the Starbucks Dolcetto al Cacao (a biscuit with 0.03g salt) with their signature hot chocolate (0.11g) totalling just 0.14g salt.

Top 10 lowest salt treats

ChainTreatSalt (g)
StarbucksDolcetto al Cacao0.03
COSTAMini Muffin Choc 0.048
StarbucksChocolate Chunk Shortbread Fairtrade0.05
StarbucksBelgian Chocolate Brownie Gluten Free Fairtrade0.07
EATMaple Pecan Plait0.07
COSTAMini Muffin Raspberry & White Choc0.081
StarbucksAlmond Biscotto0.09
EATChocolate Croissant0.095
EATWhite Chocolate and Raspberry Cake0.1
Prêt A MangerChocolate Brownie Bar0.1048

This article was published on Thu 2 December 2010

Image © Lilyana Vynogradova -

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