According to the FDA, the average sodium intake for Americans is 3,4000 milligrams per day. We should be limiting our consumption to 2,300 milligrams, and this is at the top of the limit. The daily recommended allowance varies per age and hereditary factors, but even gym rats and other highly active people require no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. This amounts to less than a teaspoon.
Clearly we have a salt problem, mainly because it adds such good flavor to foods. It’s estimated that 75 percent of our sodium intake comes from processed foods.
At McCormick, we work with restaurants and food manufacturers to reduce sodium without losing any of the flavor. Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite ways to limit sodium without sacrificing great taste.
When reducing salt in foods there are several approaches I like to take, including looking at ethnic flavor profiles for inspiration, the use of special “culinary salts” and herbs and spices, and using proper culinary technique.
Probably the best example that encompasses all three approaches is curry. Curry is such a versatile dish that features complex combinations of a wide variety of herbs and spices. It is ethnic but without a standard definition. It can be virtually anything and varies not just between countries, but from house to house in curry-eating nations.
However, one common ingredient besides spices and herbs is paneer, a salty cheese-like protein. I say “salty” when referring to the taste, because paneer is actually not super high in sodium. For this reason, it’s classified as a culinary salt. By combining paneer with cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel seed, and a can of low-sodium diced tomatoes (another example of a culinary salt), you get an abundance of flavor.
Cook the curry down with some chickpeas or potatoes and you’ll concentrate the flavors. The end product is a low sodium food with high flavor impact.
For both pasta and potatoes, use parmesan cheese plus oregano, thyme, and rosemary as a salt/seasoning. You’ll get a ton of yummy flavor while skipping out on the sodium.
When I go out to eat and am looking for healthier meal options, I see a lot of use of ethnic ingredients like soy, hard cheeses – even smoked spices and oven-dried tomato. All of these ingredients give the impression of salt while limiting sodium. As a bonus, these ingredients are also exceptionally high in umami, another contributor to salt sensation.
It is clear that consumers are demanding low sodium options, either based on a doctor’s advice or for their own health and wellness reasons. Every part of the food industry has had to adjust, but looking at the positive side, it’s really brought some great new flavors into the food scene.
At McCormick, we’re all major foodies. We have a strong passion for flavor that gives us a unique expertise. Our goal is to always provide the most authentic and robust flavor solutions by respecting the gold standard process and keeping a whole food ideology.
Our gold standard is the ideal flavor. It’s created by our chefs with 100% real food ingredients. From there, both chefs and scientists will collaborate to perfectly mimic that flavor in whatever application our customers’ need.
With all of our research on the positive health effects of low-sodium, low fat, and reduced sugar, plus the appeal of these topics to the public, we’ve become a trusted thought leader within the food and beverage industry. We’ve built our reputation for our abilities to deliver high-quality, healthful flavor.
Our proprietary Flavor Cell® technology is one tool we often use to achieve the same flavor without all the salt, fat, or sugar. With Flavor Cell®, we can add the sweet sensation to food items such as cereal simply by delivering a custom honey flavor. The same principle is applied to salty tastes. It’s the use of science and natural ingredients do deliver healthier food options.
We are all creatures of habit, and habits can be hard to break. If you are a heavy salt user, don’t give up. Think about it in a week’s time frame. If you can lower your sodium intake by 50%, your taste buds will actually become more accustomed to the lower sodium amount. By day six or seven, your food will not taste so bland anymore.
Use the approaches I’ve talked about in this post, and you’ll open yourself up to new flavors, which can be really exciting.