Don’t go crackers over dips this season

What’s a Christmas party, summer barbie, or picnic lunch in Australia without a pavlova, sausages and a spread of crackers and dip? Who would know? it’s practically unheard of. And while we’re usually cautious (thankfully) to keep tabs on the sweets, we’ll mindlessly plough our way through a plate of savoury nibbles before the first snag even hits the barbie.

Those little crispy wheels of rice and grains and nutty dips bursting with flavour are usually the last things on our minds when we’re thinking about our health during the silly season. But new research has shown we’d be silly to indulge and ignore, particularly when it comes to their effect on our salt intake.

Too much salt can dehydrate us, raise blood pressure and put us at an increased risk of heart and kidney disease. Most of it is hiding in processed foods – like store bought crackers and dips.  And, new research from the George Institute for Global Health has shown there has been little to no reductions in their salt content in the last seven years and in fact, some dips are now even saltier than seawater.

The salt content in crackers (which had some targets imposed on manufacturers) has decreased by 15%, but dips (which have no targets imposed) have increased by the same amount.  Given one is rarely consumed without the other, the reduction in the former is essentially worth, well…crackers.

But the good news is, there’s no need to forgo the pleasure of picking at a plate of nibbles this Christmas. You just have to be conscious of making the best choice and not overdoing it (like all good things during the silly season).

Olive, seafood and aioli have been found to be the saltiest, so why not choose their healthier counterparts – tatziki and hummus, which are also dead easy to make yourself. Here are a few tasty low salt dip recipes.  You can also use fresh vegetables to enjoy your dips, which will cut your salt intake by cutting out the crackers.

With so much to do at Christmas, we know pre-prepared treats like crackers and dips can be heaven sent.  But it’s empowering to know that there’s a huge variation in salt content from one cracker and dip to the next and that you can still take charge of your salt intake by reading the label or, simply thinking twice before you double dip.