Japan finds a way to keep flavour in reduced salt products

Posted by Editorial on 7th September 2009

Flavour is supreme and some health conscious consumers that turn to lower sodium foods may have difficulty enjoying the healthier versions of their favorite foods. However, Japanese researchers suggest that dried bonito flakes made from fish may accentuate the salty taste of products, according to a study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.The World Health Organization has strongly recommended an average salt intake of less than 5g per day, but many consumers struggle to reduce their intake due to perceptions of reduced flavour.

High sodium consumption is associated with increased blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. In response to the high average daily salt intake in Japan, dried bonito is widely used in food preparation. Dried bonito is made through various processes such as boiling, smoke drying and inoculation with molds. Its taste and aroma are appealing to Japanese consumers.

Researchers from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts and the Ninben Co. Ltd., both in Japan, examined the effects of aroma and taste of dried bonito stock on salt enhancement and palatability of salt-reduced food. The study was conducted with people who sampled the taste and aroma of the stock prepared with two kinds of dried bonito: arabushi (mold-free) and karebushi (with mold). The taste testers determined the following:

* The characteristic aroma and taste of the karebushi stock effectively improved the palatability of food, regardless of the intensity of its saltiness.
* Karebushi stock effectively enhanced saltiness and improved overall palatability of salt-reduced food.
* The aroma of dried bonito did not enhance saltiness but prevented the loss of palatability of a low-salt diet.
* Karebushi combined with dried kelp could improve the taste of the stock without the addition of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

The researchers concluded that their results may be helpful in the development of new ways of preparing palatable salt-reduced foods by using the stock of Karebushi combined with dried kelp. However, it remains unsure whether this perception of good flavour would extend to the western palate.