More than 17.9 million people die every year following a heart attack or stroke, making these health conditions the greatest global cause of death and disability. Tragically, many of these cases could have been prevented through some simple changes to a person’s diet; in particular, reducing salt consumption can be one of the quickest and most effective methods of improving overall health.
Experts from the Action on Salt group, based at Queen Mary University of London in the UK, believe that reducing average salt consumption by a “pinch” a day could help prevent more than 4,000 heart attacks and strokes among UK patients annually, potentially saving many lives. This public health concern is the impetus for their World Salt Awareness Week campaign urging global food manufacturers to #DitchTheSalt.
Why is salt such a common ingredient?
While there is growing consciousness of the health risks posed by excessive salt consumption, it can be difficult for consumers to avoid elevated levels in their diet considering the prevalence of salt in many food products and ingredients, and this often includes many items marketed as being healthier options.
The reasoning for this is simple; salt is a universal flavor improver for both sweet and savory recipes. At low concentrations, it reduces bitterness while enhancing sweet, sour, and umami tastes (ideal for sweet dishes), whereas at higher concentrations it can suppress the sweetness and further embolden the umami (perfect for savory foods).
This means removing salt from a recipe can quickly compromise the taste profile of a particular food or beverage. For a long time, manufacturers faced the unpalatable choice of cutting salt content to offer healthier yet less tasty foods or refusing to alter their recipes in the name of preserving much-loved flavors and being castigated by the health lobby as a result.
DuPont’s role in the production of salt substitutes
Thankfully, there are now salt substitutes available for a range of applications and DuPont technologies play a critical role in their production.
For more than four decades, nanofiltration FilmTec™ elements have been eliminating salts and other impurities in dairy processing. Historically, nanofiltration membrane technologies have been required to avoid downstream precipitation in membrane and evaporator operations and to ensure final product purity. Concentrating the milk for drinking and separating out the essential ingredients, such as milk powder, whey protein, lactose, and other nutrients, enables products from milk and cheese to infant formula and protein shakes.
Today, with health-conscious consumers looking for lower sodium options, dairy manufacturers are leveraging the whey or lactose permeate, the by-product of DuPont’s nanofiltration membranes, in new ways. The salt-enhancing characteristics of the mineral-packed dairy permeate, gives dairy ingredient manufactures the option to offer new products that can act as salt substitutes. The concentration of calcium, potassium, and magnesium provides a natural salty flavor and can enhance the taste of everything from baked goods and confectionery to dry mixes and beverages.
DuPont’s role in the production of flavor enhancers
Simply removing salt from food formulations can negatively impact flavor, texture, and overall functionality. The industry not only needs salt alternatives, but flavor enhancers to achieve desired taste profile. DuPont™ AmberLite™ ion exchange resins can be used in the recovery and purification of lysine, an amino acid that can be used to help mask the bitterness of salt alternatives such as potassium chloride.
Potassium chloride is an alternative to sodium chloride that may be used by food manufacturers that want to obtain lower levels of sodium. To help with taste and flavor impact salt substitutes can have, lysine is now being used as a flavor enhancer in the food processing industry in applications such as industrial meats to soups. The food industry can rely on DuPont™ AmberLite™ ion exchange resins to help deliver the efficient and cost-effective production of amino acids, such as lysine.
Creating a wellness-optimized world
DuPont is committed to creating a wellness-optimized world, that allows humankind to focus on thriving rather than just surviving — driving innovation in technologies that help provide plentiful and healthier food choices. Discover how DuPont technologies are helping to feed the world through farm-to-table food processing solutions: https://www.dupont.com/water/industries/life-sciences/food-and-beverage.html