Are your wraps as healthy as you think?


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Chances are if I held up a slice of bread and a wrap, you would say that the wrap was a healthier choice. And indeed, like bread, wraps can be an exceptionally healthy choice, especially when they are packed with wholegrains, fibre and key nutrients. Wraps are also becoming increasing popular with a 35% increase in the number of wraps being sold in the last four years. It may surprise you though to hear that not all wraps are created equal and in fact some of the most popular wraps are packed full of salt and artificial preservatives, perhaps not making them the best choice for you, or for your family.

Steak&OnionWrap 03v2A recent report commissioned by the people who make Helga’s and conducted independently by the University of Newcastle has found that of the 22 bestselling wraps on the market, some contain up to six times the recommended amount of salt of others per serve and 17 of the top 22 wraps contained artificial preservatives.

In particular, the report showed that leading wrap brand Mission contains the highest salt levels of all the wraps studied. One serve of these wraps (49-71g) on average contains 561mg of sodium, which is over one third the recommended amount of sodium in the Australian Suggested Dietary Target for chronic disease prevention, which is 1,600mg of sodium or 4g of salt per day. And that is before considering what fillings are added!

Flavoured wraps in particular had higher amounts of salt and simply swapping a higher salt wrap for a lower one (like Helga’s Traditional White Wraps) can reduce your daily sodium intake by as much as 40% or up to 90 less teaspoons of salt in your diet each year (based on the average daily intake of 1.5 wraps).

From a nutritional perspective high intakes of salt are linked to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease long term and can cause bloating and fluid retention on a daily basis.

Perhaps even more concerning was the finding that so many popular varieties of wraps, even those that appeared to be healthy choices contained artificial preservatives. The artificial preservatives most commonly used included 200 (potassium sorbate), 282 (calcium propionate) and 281 (sodium propionate). These molecules naturally occur in small amounts in foods and are produced in the gut as part of the digestive process but the concern is that these molecules do accumulate in the body, making it difficult to identify any potential detrimental symptoms for children and adults. So if you want your diet to be as free from additives as possible, check the nutrition labels of the wraps you are purchasing for the family.

Helgas Traditional Wrap_ClaimAs a general rule of thumb, look for products that contain less than 600mg of sodium per 100g and check ingredient lists to avoid artificial preservatives so you can enjoy healthy wraps without the unwanted additives. Wraps like any food can be a regular part of a healthy diet, it is just about choosing the right ones. My top picks are Helga’s Tradition White Wraps, Mixed Grain and Lower Carb Wraps along with Wattle Valley Grain Wraps.

Perhaps even more concerning was the finding that so many popular varieties of wraps, even those that appeared to be healthy choices contained artificial preservatives. The artificial preservatives most commonly used included 200 (potassium sorbate), 282 (calcium propionate) and 281 (sodium propionate). These molecules naturally occur in small amounts in foods and are produced in the gut as part of the digestive process but the concern is that these molecules do accumulate in the body, making it difficult to identify any potential detrimental symptoms for children and adults. So if you want your diet to be as free from additives as possible, check the nutrition labels of the wraps you are purchasing for the family.

As a general rule of thumb, look for products that contain less than 600mg of sodium per 100g and check ingredient lists to avoid artificial preservatives so you can enjoy healthy wraps without the unwanted additives. Wraps like any food can be a regular part of a healthy diet, it is just about choosing the right ones. My top picks are Helga’s Tradition White Wraps, Mixed Grain and Lower Carb Wraps along with Wattle Valley Grain Wraps.

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Susie is currently working as a Consultant Dietitian and spokesperson for Helga’s. All thoughts and opinions included in this article her own.

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