Excess amounts of salt in cheese are contributing to an epidemic of high blood pressure responsible for strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths, experts have warned.

The health pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) analysed 722 cheese portions of 30 gram each in the UK and found many contained more salt than a bag of crisps.

The saltiest type of cheese had 1.06 gram of salt per 30 gram. However, within varieties salt content varied — suggesting it is possible to reduce levels, the BBC News reported.

Too much salt is known to raise blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The survey looked at over 30 different cheese varieties from seven supermarkets over four months up to November 2012, assessing salt content in a standard 30g portion size.

The saltiest cheese varieties were the blue cheese Roquefort, feta and halloumi.

The cheese varieties with the lowest salt levels were mozzarella, emmental and wensleydale. Within cheese varieties there was also a large variation in salt content between products, the report said.

The survey found that for gorgonzola, one cheese product was nearly six times saltier than the least salty, and large differences were also seen in wensleydale and cheddar.

Salt intake should be less than 6 gram a day — about a teaspoon — and urged consumers to choose either a lower salt version or eat less cheese, Cash said.

“Even small reductions will have large health benefits. For every one gram reduction in population salt intake we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, stroke and heart failure, half of which would have been fatal,” Cash chairman, Prof. Graham MacGregor said.