Researchers have found a way to make food taste salty but with less of the sodium chloride tied to poor health.
“It’s a stealth approach, not like buying the ‘reduced salt’ option, which people generally don’t like,” said Carolyn Ross, a Food Science professor at Washington State University (WSU) in the US.
“If we can stair-step people down, then we increase health while still making food that people want to eat,” Ross said.
The study, published in the Journal of Food Science, looked at salt blends that use less sodium chloride and include other salts like calcium chloride and potassium chloride.
Both of those salts have no adverse health effects on people, Ross said.
Potassium can actually help reduce blood pressure. However, they are not very tasty.
“Potassium chloride, especially, tastes really bitter and people really don’t like it,” Ross said.
The researchers used tasting panels and WSU’s ‘electronic tongue’ to see just how much they could add of the replacement salts for standard sodium chloride before people found the food unacceptable to eat.
Some tasting panels tested a variety of salt solutions, or salt in water, while others tested different salt combinations in tomato soup.
Using the e-tongue and panels, they found that a blend using about 96.4 per cent sodium chloride with 1.6 per cent potassium chloride and 2 per cent calcium chloride was the ideal reduction.
They had a higher reduction when they added only calcium chloride, getting acceptable rates with a combination of 78 per cent sodium chloride and 22 per cent calcium chloride.
“This combination of the two salts did not significantly differ compared to 100 per cent sodium chloride,” Ross said.
“But when we added potassium chloride, consumer acceptance decreased,” she said.
While humans need salt, Americans consume significantly more than is necessary or even healthy, researchers said.
According to the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the recommended maximum amount of salt consumed per day is less than 2,300 milligrammes (mg).
Recent findings have suggested that gradual reductions in salt over a period of years is the best way to reduce salt consumption.
Using one of the new blends for a specified time frame could lead to greater reductions down the road, researchers said.