Significance Of Salt In Foods
“Indians consume a total average of 10 grams of salt per day, per person, which is twice the recommended WHO guideline on salt/sodium consumption”
Salt In Foods
Salt, or sodium chloride provides one of the live basic tastes that consumers love. Saltiness and salt contribute both flavour and functionality in a wide range of applications. Salt not only makes food taste salty but it also aids In food preservation and food safety and offers a variety of functionalities in a range of applications. It also contributes to other taste properties that are not easily replicated by other available ingredients.
Sodium itself is a very potent inhibitor of off-tastes, particularly the bitter tastes and thus, one of the reasons salt is added to so many different foods is because it helps reduce the off-tastes, the bitter tastes and thereby enhances other tastes. Researchers suspect there is at least one other mechanism that accounts for the sensory properties contributed by salt, Salt also improves increases the thickness and body of the foods and makes it taste richer.
In meat products, it solubilises protein and enhances hydration. In the case of cheese, it helps regulate enzyme activity and also enhances texture. Salt/ sodium plays an integral part in the making of cheese and is responsible for controlling the texture, moisture, functionality, taste and food safety. It controls the yeast activity in yeast leavened breads and also strengthens gluten, so that doughs are more machinable.
Salt exerts a preservative effect in foods because It lowers water activity. Although few foods today are preserved by salt alone, in some products, salt is considered one of the multiple hurdles used to reduce microbial activity in foods.
Consumption 01 Salt/Sodium In India
The World Health Organisation has recommended a daily intake of five grams of salt per day per person, or 2400 mg of sodium per day per person. This is the norm considered for the Indian population. However, studies reveal that Indian consumers consume a total average of 10 grams of salt per day per person, which is twice the recommended WHO guideline on salt/ sodium consumption for human beings in India.
Salt In Indian Cooking
Indian cooking utilises a lot of spices, tomatoes, tamarind, onion etc, as a base for curries/meals, due to which the requirement of salt in cooking goes up. Thus, a drastic change has to be brought about in cooking methods.
Vital Changes For Cooking Methods
- Salt should be added as the last ingredient while cooking as the habit of tasting in between cooking makes one add more salt to the food.
- Initially, the food should be allowed to cook with the salt that is naturally available in these foods and then the required salt should be added.
- While boiling vegetables, salt should not be added, or the residual water after boiling should be discarded.
- Indian cooking should move on from boiling to steaming, grilling or microwave cooking as this type of cooking requires little salt.
- It is best to replace salt with herbs and other seasoning wherever possible, so as to mask the low salt taste.
- Usage of light salts (salts with lower sodium content should be used).
- The taste of salt is required when the food rolls over the tongue while it is chewed in the mouth.
- Hence, if salt is added last, the sodium remains on the surface of the food and low salt cooking tastes normal, Excluding the salty taste, the body adjusts easily to eating less salt and as the taste buds adjust, the desire for salty tastes will decline.
- It is important to develop children’s tastes for low salt foods and they should be taught to reject foods with high salt content.
National Mission To Reduce Salt Consumption
As the processed foods industry advances in India, an average of 75 per cent of the salt intake is fostered through the use of processed foods. A careful consumer also ends up consuming high sodium foods by eating out, or by being constantly subjected to processed meals. Thus, public awareness and a prevention strategy needs to be brought into play and this effort has to involve the likes of food manufacturers, restaurant businesses and food processors.
The basic requirement of a strategy for reducing the intake of sodium begins by communicating with the people and increasing awareness. The next move calls for the involvement of changing and standardising the food Industry norms. Regular monitoring followed by regulation is the key to achieve the goal of reducing salt! sodIum Intake and in turn, a milestone in controlling hypertension across the country can be achieved.