Some salt is vital to us. Our bodies need the sodium in salt to maintain fluid balance. Sodium is also essential for the contraction of muscles, and it enables the transmission of nerve impulses around the body. But too much salt is harmful to health. ”Salt contains sodium, which increases blood pressure. And high blood pressure is known to be harmful to cardiovascular health and to increase the risk of stroke, for example”, says Fazer Lab’s researcher Kristiina Tuukkanen.
The human body needs salt, but just 1,5 g of salt per day is sufficient. “Many food ingredients contain natrium naturally, enough to fulfil the human body’s need of salt. Added salt is not really necessary for well-being,” Kristiina points out. Vegetables and fruits also contain potassium, which is an antagonist of sodium and helps blunt the negative effects of sodium in the body. Adding a rich variety of whole grain products and vegetables is worthwhile.
Towards less salty flavours
One gets used to the flavour of salt – and the salty flavour is perhaps all too familiar to many. Small children are happy to eat saltless food, but gradually children get used to salt and learn to miss its flavour in their food.
It’s easy to add a little extra salt to home cooking and many of us have taken the habit to season every plateful with salt without even tasting it first. So what to do if you really miss the salty flavour and low-salt dishes just don’t tempt your taste buds?
If you want to learn to use less salt, try reducing it gradually from all parts of your diet. The salty flavour can be replaced by other flavours: lemon and other sour ingredients, as well as fresh herbs add plenty of flavour on your plate.
“Adults get used to new flavours surprisingly quickly, which is useful when cutting down on salt”, says Kristiina. “First you need to be persistent and resist the temptation to sprinkle extra salt, even if the food feels a bit tasteless. In a few weeks you’ll get used the new, less salty flavours, and the food’s own flavours will start appealing to your taste buds”, says Kristiina.
But how much salt is ok?
According to the Nordic nutrition recommendations, your daily diet should contain no more than 5 g of salt. “But studies have shown that in average Finnish people eat a lot more salt than what’s recommended: men nearly 9 g and women about 6,5 g a day,” Kristiina points out.
Some of the salt we eat is added by ourselves – remember the tiny bits of extra salt you may have added on your plate every now and then? But some of the salt comes from the food we eat in restaurants, from pre-cooked meals and from bread, for example.
“We know that the biggest sources of salt in the average Finnish diet are grain and bakery products, meat and dairy products. That is why we have, particularly in the bakery, been looking for ways to cut down on the amount of salt. We have also paid extra attention on the amount of salt in our oat-based breakfast and snacking products,” Kristiina continues.
Product development brings new ways to reduce salt - without compromising taste
We at Fazer take sustainability seriously. We feel our responsibility to ensure that the products we bring to consumers are responsibly produced. We see food as a solution to many challenges – including reducing salt. When we reduce the amount of salt in our products, we help people make everyday choices that do good to their well-being.
For example, in 2016 Fazer Bakeries focused on reducing salt - with excellent results: in the course of one year, we managed to reduce 35 000 kg of salt from Finnish diets. And this work continues.
”We are constantly looking for new solutions that enable us to cut down on the amount of salt without reducing flavours. A good example of this is the classic Fazer Real rye bread, which contains only 0,7% of salt. We boosted its flavour with sourdough and malt, and by creating a more moist structure for the bread. After these changes and increased flavours, the mouth does not crave more salt,” says Juhani Sibakov, director of innovation and product development at Fazer Bakery Finland.
The amount of salt is also carefully considered in our brain-friendly Fazer Brainhow products. Too much salt increases blood pressure and therefore creates pressure on blood veins and the brain, too.