Food ingredients

How can chicken and pork flavours replace the monosodium glutamate in ready-made spices

A seasoned noodle soup in a bowl

The harmful effects of excessive sodium intake are already old acquaintances of the scientific community, health professionals and the majority of the population.

Associated with the development of coronary heart disease, sodium should be consumed with great caution, in extremely limited daily portions.

This, however, can be a difficult task.

Many processed foods have high concentrations of this component in a single portion, such as ready-made spices, for example. Therefore, this limit can be easily exceeded.

Thus, companies have been increasingly pressured to promote sodium reduction in their formulations by replacing ingredients rich in this nutrient.

But how can they achieve this?

Interesting alternatives are the natural flavours of chicken and pork, which have low sodium content and are able to give a natural flavor to the food.

In this blog post, we will understand more deeply the problem of excess sodium in processed foods. And we will know more about the benefits of the aromas of chicken and pork.

Why does sodium need to be reduced in processed foods?

Similar to the other nutrients present in the diet, sodium also performs specific functions in the human body. Among them, it helps in muscle functions, participates in the transmission of nerve impulses, and helps to regulate fluid balance in all tissues.

However, consumption of sodium in high amounts causes the liver to lose the ability of eliminating sodium in excess. This excess is precisely what will cause an increase in blood volume, raising blood pressure. In the long term, this effect can lead to atherosclerosis and a greater chance of myocardial infarction and stroke.

The cooking salt has approximately 40% sodium in its composition. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute from the United States, a maximum consumption of 1 teaspoon of sodium per day (5-6 g) is recommended, which corresponds to 2.4 g of sodium.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of deaths around the world and it was already possible to understand that sodium is a central factor in the development of these conditions.

This led the World Health Organization (WHO) to draw up a plan for an average reduction of 30% in salt intake by the population, so that the maximum sodium intake is respected.

This goal is expected to be reached by the year 2025.

Among the strategies developed by WHO to achieve this goal. Is the creation of conditions that allow the reduction of the consumption of sodium by the population. This means, among other measures, the reformulation of industrialized foods, focusing on reducing the sodium content inside them.

The main targets of sodium reduction

Among the industrialized foods with the highest concentration of sodium, the ready-made spices are a highlight, from those used in cooking to the powdered seasonings that accompany the instant noodles.

A study conducted by the Brazilian Consumer Protection Association (Proteste) analyzed 3 different brands of ready-made seasoning and found that in all of them a serving equivalent to a teaspoon provides 70% of the recommended sodium content of a day.

Also according to this research, the spices that most contain sodium are those based on garlic and salt, sold as a paste.

Such data are alarming, since there is the imminent risk of the consumer exceeding the limit of sodium intake when consuming these seasonings, because sodium is also present in other foods that can be consumed throughout the day.

Therefore, the daily use of ready-made spices is characterized as an aggravating factor for the development of hypertension.

According to the Brazilian Society of Cardiology, half of the reported cases of hypertension could have been avoided if sodium consumption was controlled so as not to exceed the limit of 2.4 g per day.

This data shows the importance of keeping an eye on the sodium content of foods, especially R&D professionals working in the development of healthy products.

The dangers posed by monosodium glutamate.

A component present in many ready-made spices which also contributes significantly to the high sodium content of them is monosodium glutamate (GMS).

Responsible for providing the umami taste to food, this flavor enhancer is present in a multitude of products, such as sauces and condiments, ketchup, soups in powder, chips, frozen food, among others.

In fact, the sensory characteristic given by MSG is extremely attractive, capable of elevating the flavor of a food to a level that might not have been reached without its presence.

However, GMS presents, on average, 21% sodium in its composition, which, together with salt already added to a wide range of industrialized foods, ends up being a risk factor for the development of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, excessive consumption of GMS can occur easily during the day, since, as already mentioned, it is present in a large quantity of products.

This excessive consumption can also lead to other health problems such as itching, hyperactivity, migraine and swelling of the tongue and throat.

Even though it is present in some natural sources, monosodium glutamate is strictly a food additive. Therefore, a product that presents it in its list of ingredients, does not meet the requirements to be considered as clean label.

With all those problems, is it possible to reduce salt content of foods and replace the monosodium glutamate?

Fortunately, the answer is yes!

Other ingredients are able to fulfill the function of both salt and GMS, contributing to the improvement of the flavor of the food formulations in a much healthier way.

Among the alternatives, the natural aromas of chicken and pork stand out.

Created from fresh and high quality raw materials, this type of flavor is 100% natural as does not contain the addition of synthetic additives, preservatives and antioxidants. Therefore, this ingredient still fits into the clean label concept.

In addition, by going through a mild heat treatment, the flavor and aroma of these flavors are more intense and capable of enhancing the flavor of the products to which they are added.

Chicken and pork flavours vs. Monosodium glutamate

Using the chicken and pork aromas to make products such as crackers, seasonings, sauces, soups and broths ensures a reduction in the total sodium content of the product.

As a comparison, ready-made spices containing monosodium glutamate, both in paste form and powder form, have on average 1120 mg of sodium in a 5 g portion, which already reaches 42% of the daily intake limit of this element.

On the other hand, the chicken and pork flavors in liquid form have 600 mg in the 5 g portion, which corresponds to only 25% of the daily limit.

This means that by choosing to use liquid chicken and pork flavors in a ready-to-use seasoning formulation, the company will be promoting a 46% reduction in sodium content if no additional salt is used in the formulation.

The aroma of chicken powder does not present sodium in its composition, and can therefore be a complete substitute of salt and GMS in seasonings and other products. 

Conclusion

Reducing sodium in food, besides being a requirement of regulatory agencies and health professionals, is also a demand from a big part of the population.

However;

Because it is an efficient preservative and because it gives pleasant taste to the products, replacing salt and other high-sodium ingredients, such as monosodium glutamate, is not a simple task.

Despite this, new viable alternatives, such as the aromas of chicken and pork, are starting to emerge. In addition to a significant reduction in sodium content, these flavors are versatile, natural and have no additives.

In this way, it is clear that it is possible to reduce sodium in industrialized foods, while maintaining a pleasant and remarkable flavor.

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