Why Flavor Is the Key to a Lower-Sodium Future

A photograph of various uncut, chopped, powdered spices sitting on spoons.

Taste tops the list of reasons why consumers are hesitant to embrace low-sodium foods – which means that flavor can play a vital role in public health.

Key takeaways:

  • Physical and social flavor perception can make or break public interest in low-sodium diets
  • Chasing flavor in high-sodium foods can cause serious health problems for consumers
  • Herbs, spices, and other condiments can substitute for salt
  • Certain cooking and manufacturing methods can further reduce the need for added salt

Humans are biologically hardwired to seek the feel-good hit that comes from salt. When we get it, we’re at the mercy of its addictive qualities. Food manufacturers know this, which is why both parties have been hesitant to embrace low-sodium alternatives.

Thankfully, consumers are becoming increasingly aware that their love of salty foods can be a gateway to poor health. It’s a sea change in public taste that’s been slow in arriving but is gathering momentum. Even so, the size of the salty snack market in America increased by more than 15% in 2022 and generated over $28 billion in sales. The biggest reason? Flavor!

The good news for consumers – and for manufacturers seeking a better public profile and their share of the booming low-sodium snack market – is that there’s a middle ground where flavor and health can meet. Here’s everything you need to know about this emerging trend.

The importance of understanding sodium

The ideal recommended daily sodium intake for adults (generally speaking) is no more than 1,500 mg per day according to the American Heart Association. This figure varies somewhat depending on factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and medical conditions, but the important thing to remember is that a healthy body needs very little sodium to function optimally – only around 500 mg. 

The problem, of course, is that most of us consume far more than 500 or even 1,500 mg of salt per day. In fact, the average American wolfs down a whopping 3,400 mg each day. Common food choices like soups and breads are very salt-heavy, with around 70% of our daily sodium intake coming from mass-produced – and extremely popular – processed foods

As more and more people are beginning to discover, all of this excess salt can lead to serious health problems, including pancreatic cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A high-salt diet can also take its toll on mental health, leading to issues such as impaired thinking and even depression

So cutting back on salt would seem like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Flavor and low-sodium diets

Salt has an important primary and secondary role in flavoring food. First, there’s that salty taste people enjoy. Secondly, salt can make foods taste better by enhancing their desirable flavors and masking less-desirable ones. It should come as no surprise, then, that taste is a big area of concern with low-sodium diets, which struggle with the perception of being flavorless and bland.

And even worse than no taste? Bad taste. And this is the problem with many low-sodium snack foods, which often have a bitter, metallic flavor thanks to conventional sodium alternatives, such as MSG (monosodium glutamate) and potassium chloride, that are used by the snack food industry. Consistency (thickness, crunch, and general flavor balance) can also be negatively affected in reduced-sodium products because salt often helps give food its “mouth feel.”

While these sound like difficult challenges to overcome, the truth is that a low-sodium diet can burst with delicious and varied flavors, and manufactured foods can be just as tasty with lower amounts of sodium. It’s all in how they’re cooked, processed, and seasoned.

Techniques for low-sodium flavor

Some dietary experts suggest that adding ingredients with “high flavor impact” to manufacturing and cooking processes might help reduce the need for added salt. Using other flavorful herbs and spices is a great way to create that impact and substitute for sodium’s heavy flavor hit. Some of these options also have bonus health benefits, such as the thermogenic (fat-burning) qualities of peppers or garlic’s positive impact on blood pressure.

Some experts have also noted that searing is a cooking technique that enhances flavor and could further reduce the need for added sodium. Searing, roasting, or grilling food all affect its chemical makeup, bringing out flavor compounds that can make food taste nutty, meaty, or sweet. This won’t happen via steaming, boiling, or poaching, hence why barbeques are another hugely popular American food choice!

MicroSalt®️ for food manufacturers

Food manufacturers can help consumers complement smart home cooking choices by providing products that put good health and flavor first. It’s possible by integrating MicroSalt® into the production process. MicroSalt® is all-natural salt, but its patented microparticle actually delivers twice the salty flavor hit of common salt – meaning you can achieve the same flavor by using half as much, thereby reducing sodium without compromising on taste.

MicroSalt® is also a perfect low-sodium topical application that preserves the consistency and mouth feel that consumers are used to. The tongue won’t notice any negative difference in flavor or texture as MicroSalt® rapidly dissolves to deliver a saltier taste faster than standard crystals. That flavor is just as enjoyable as regular salt without any harmful additives or substitutes.

Because it’s still salt, MicroSalt® doesn’t require significant alterations in production equipment, which means switching out traditional salt crystals for our game-changing microparticle is also an affordable way to produce healthier products. With just a few tweaks to your recipe, you can proudly state that your products now have half the sodium with no difference in quality or flavor.

Make healthy flavor part of your product’s future

If you’ve been looking for an affordable, flavorful way to produce healthier snack foods, it’s time to give MicroSalt®️ a try! We can help you provide full-flavor, healthier alternatives to your customers, putting your brand at the forefront of the low-sodium revolution.

Connect via our web page or call 1-877-825-0655 to learn more about how multi-award-winning MicroSalt®️ is helping businesses and consumers make the transition to lower-sodium living!

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