The review examines various sodium reduction strategies available to the food industry

In their review, researchers from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois (U of I) found that although it is a a micronutrient necessary for a healthy, balanced diet, the average sodium intake among American adults exceeds 3,000 to 3,500 mg per day.

“Overconsumption of sodium is a huge health problem, and the FDA has been recommending sodium reduction in foods since the 1980s, but we haven’t gotten there yet. While the unit volume of salt in the food supply has not increased, the amount of sodium consumed has increased, because we consume a lot of food”,said study co-author Soo-Yeun Lee, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) at Island University.

And many consumers do not make efforts to reduce their sodium intake, even when they are aware of the negative health effects that a diet high in sodium can have. A recent surveyOf 7,090 surveys conducted by MSG supplier Ajinomoto, 64% of consumers know that eating too much sodium is unhealthy, but only 37% pay attention to the amount of sodium they eat and an even larger number (83%) favors taste with 55% of respondents agreeing with the statement that foods low in sodium are tasteless.

More than 70% of sodium intake comes from processed and packaged foods, primarily deli meats, breads, cheeses and soups due to the favorable sensory and functional properties that salt imparts to products, researchers noted, who reviewed a wide range of scientific literature covering sodium. reduction strategies.

“We hope this work will provide insight into the wide variety of salt reduction technologies that exist. This can help food companies be better informed to use different strategies than what they have been doing,”said Lee.

The research was supported by the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS), a non-profit organization, through a grant from the ILSI North America Sodium Committee.

Five main salt reduction strategies

From their work, the researchers identified five main strategies: salt reduction, salt substitutes, flavor modification, physical modification, and functional modification.

“Many of the studies we reviewed combined more than one method, such as salt removal with salt substitutes and flavor modification or salt removal and physical modification,”said Aubrey Dunteman, lead author of the paper and FSHN graduate student.

Many studies, for example, have used salt substitutes such as potassium chloride, calcium chloride, or other acidic chlorides or salts in combination with flavor modifications, such as umami substances or acid blockers. bitterness.

Physical modification involves methods such as salt crystal encapsulation which alters the way salt is dissolved in the mouth and alters the salty perception of a certain product.

“You can also create an uneven distribution of salt in a product which can further help improve the salty perception of the food product through taste contrast,Dunteman added.

The final method observed by researchers is functional modification, in which food producers can move away from sodium-based preservatives and use alternatives such as celery powder alternatives.

FDA Sodium Reduction Goals

In October 2021, the FDA released a long-awaited document final direction​for the food industry outlining voluntary short-term (2.5 year) sodium reduction goals for 163 packaged, prepared and restaurant food categories.

The goals of the new guidelines – which finalize (in part) the 2016 draft guidelines outlining short-term (2 years) and long-term (10 years) goals – are designed to reduce average daily sodium intake around 3,400 mg to 3,000 mg, which is higher than the 2,300 mg recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the agency acknowledges. Learn more HERE

The best strategy for consumers?

While salt reduction in the food system relies almost entirely on the actions and efforts of companies to change the ingredient composition of their products, consumers control the sodium intake in what they prepare and eat at home. , said the researchers, who said the best overall strategy is to cook yourself and limit the consumption of processed and packaged foods.

“If you’re cooking at home, you can intentionally reduce salt and you’ll appreciate the reduced salt perception over time. People can adapt to the reduced salt level, but it’s a learning and learning process. ‘adaptation. You can also add flavor enhancers such as herbs and spices’,noted Lee.

Source: Journal of Food Science

DOI: 10.1111/1541-4337.12915​

“Compendium of Sodium Reduction Strategies in Foods: A Scoping Review”

Authors: A. Dunteman, et al.

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