Buyers are more health conscious than ever. As people become of the serious health effects that can occur with the excessive consumption of sodium, an increasing number are looking for frozen, prepackaged, and canned food options that use as little sodium as possible. Just this small change can have an impact on an individual’s heart health and blood pressure, so there is no debating how important this is.
However, reducing the sodium content of foods can also lead to them being considered bland. While eating healthy is important to buyers, so too is having access to delicious and flavorful foods. Therein lies a dilemma for the flavorist – how can he or she create a food product that is just as delicious without sodium as a similar food product would be without the added salt?
The answer to that question is incredibly complex. It is important to understand that sodium adds far more to food products than just the flavor of salt, though this can play a big part. Sodium also acts as to enhance the other natural flavors of the foods, and can increase the intensity of a food product’s overall flavor qualities. In addition, it can help to temper unwanted qualities in a food product, such as bitterness.
However, flavorists are finding that one of the best solutions is to enhance the savory qualities of food products. This has led many to see utilizing umami to counter the negative effects of removing sodium from food products. Umami, or savory, flavors act much the same way as sodium does to enhance the overall flavors of food products.
While flavor ingredients such as natural savory complex have been used for a long while in the creation of meaty flavors, it is now being discovered that these types of flavor ingredients can play a big part in ensuring that a sodium-light soup, stew, sauce – just to name a few applications – is just as delicious even when it is healthier for consumers.
Another key factor in producing delicious, sodium-light food products is learning how to work with healthier salt replacement options. While there are products that can provide the salty taste those consumers are looking for without the excessive sodium, many of them can leave a bitter aftertaste – something that can be countered with the addition of the right flavor ingredients in the right amounts.
The final factor in ensuring that a food tastes as great, even without the sodium, is finding ways to utilize existing flavor ingredients that can help hide the fact that sodium is missing. Boosting these positive flavor attributes can go a long way in keeping consumers from even noticing that there has been a sodium reduction in their favorite foods.
Choosing other flavor ingredients such as natural garlic oil and a variety of herbs may also help to provide a flavor boost to food products where needed. All things considered, reducing the sodium content of foods does not have to lead to a dull, flavorless product – all it takes is a little ingenuity to make up for this missing component.