From a blanket of melted cheese covering the dough to toppings like ham and salami dotted on the top, pizza is unsurprisingly taxing on your high cholesterol.
However, one hidden ingredient in the beloved dish also spells no good news for your blood pressure – salt.
Worryingly, a new survey from the charity, Action on Salt, warns that one in two pizzas sold in the UK provide a days’ worth or more of salt per single pizza.
In case you aren’t aware, your recommended daily salt intake is capped at six grams of the common seasoning per day, according to the NHS.
What’s worse, some pizzas contain even more, with the saltiest option packing a whopping 21.38 grams of salt which is “saltier than seawater”, according to the charity.
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Out of 1,387 pizzas surveyed, a staggering two in three pizzas sold in restaurants and takeaways contained six grams or more of the common ingredient per single pizza.
The survey also revealed that takeaway pizzas were found to contain more than double the amount of salt found in pizzas bought in supermarkets.
Furthermore, Action on Salt warned that current salt intake is the major driving factor behind high blood pressure, with pizza’s providing UK adults with a whopping 3,224 tonnes of salt every year.
To illustrate this amount, the charity noted that it’s enough to cover Wembley Stadium’s football pitch with over 32 centimetres of salt.
High blood pressure is dubbed a silent killer due to its ability to lay the groundwork for serious health problems, ranging from strokes to heart attacks.
Salt is considered the “single biggest” cause of this condition because of its ability to make your body hold onto water, Blood Pressure UK explains.
The extra water in your blood triggers extra pressure in your blood vessel walls, consequently raising your reading.
That’s why Blood Pressure UK recommends avoiding or cutting down on foods that are “particularly high in salt”.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Salt, said: “Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to lower blood pressure and reduce the number of people suffering from strokes, heart disease, and life-changing disabilities, associated with this – all of which is completely avoidable.
“According to the Department of Health and Social Care, each one gram per day reduction in the population’s salt intake saves more than 4,000 premature deaths per year.
“Given this, it’s a disgrace that food companies continue to fill our food with so much salt when there is the option to reformulate, which our research shows can easily be done.
“The Government must act now for the benefit of our future health, and furthermore save the NHS many billions of pounds.”
To mark Salt Awareness Week, which is taking place between May 15 and 21, Action on Salt is calling on the Government to work together to enforce the salt targets.
To take control of your salt intake back, Blood Pressure UK recommends looking at food labels and avoiding foods with high salt content, which is 1.5 grams or more per 100 grams of the food.
Fortunately, cutting back on the common seasoning is one of the simplest ways to lower your blood pressure reading.
“And [it] will start to make a difference very quickly, even within weeks,” the charity adds.