University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientists produced a lower-salt processed turkey that consumers in a blind sensory test preferred to a full-salt version, according to a study published in the international journal LWT-Food Science and Technology.
This isnt the holy grail, but it is one strategy that can help reduce salt content in processed foods, says senior author Amanda Kinchla, extension associate professor of food science.
Researchers like Kinchla and her team are constantly looking for ways to reduce sodium in food products because so many health risks are associated with a diet high in sodium, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney problems. Americans typically consume more than half of their calories from ultra-processed food, which is the top source of sodium in the typical diet. Processed deli meats fall into this high-sodium category.
The U.S. significantly overconsumes sodium from so many places, Kinchla says. We know this, but we arent changing. Consumers dont want to buy food with known reduced salt, because they think its going to taste yucky.
Processed foods are high in sodium because of the sodium diffusion that takes place inside the food during processing. Food product developers have discovered that they can manipulate the size of salt particles and use less if the salt hits the tongue first and lingers. That is amazing and clever, but it doesnt work with deli meat or foods with a lot of water. The salt will dissolve; you cant keep it on the surface, Kinchla explains.