Food, Global Health 3 min

An innovative imaging technique to reduce the salt content of food

PRESS RELEASE - Originally used as a preservative, salt is nowadays mainly used...for its salty taste! But its consumption must remain moderate so as not to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Scientists at INRAE have developed an innovative imaging method that makes it possible to monitor the diffusion of salt in food. It could be an essential lever to encourage industrial and domestic practices using less salt, while preserving the salty taste. Their results have been published in two articles on 17 February in Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry.

Published on 17 February 2022

illustration An innovative imaging technique to reduce the salt content of food
© Pixabay

"For your health, avoid eating too much fat, too much sugar and too much salt.” This preventive message, which has been used in food advertisements since 2007, warns against the excessive consumption of these three ingredients. In particular, too much salt increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is why reducing salt in our food is to this day a major public health issue.


Scientists at INRAE have looked into the levers available for reducing the amount of salt in food. Their approach is to reduce the amount of salt in industrial processes as well as in domestic preparations by asking the question "when and how to salt dishes with less salt while preserving the salty taste?”.


To this end, the scientists have developed an innovative system using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to both map the distribution of salt and measure its interaction with the food. Since this technique leaves the food intact, they were able to follow the salting process over time.


They demonstrate for the first time that several salt populations coexist within certain foods, each interacting differently with the food. They also quantified the distribution of salt, which is mostly heterogeneous. These different interactions and distributions suggest strong differences in sensation of saltiness.


These results represent major advances that are part of the ANR Sal&Mieux project, which is led by the Centre for Taste and Feeding Behavior (CSGA INRAE, Dijon) and aims to optimise domestic salting practices. This new non-destructive imaging method, which is now part of the service offer of the PROBE research infrastructure accredited by INRAE, is doubly useful. First of all, it provides a better understanding of the determinants of the sensation of saltiness, but it also enables the development of solutions to reduce the quantity of salt by optimising industrial processes and domestic uses.



Characterization of the Sodium Binding State in Several Food Products by 23Na NMR Spectroscopy, Nour El Sabbagh, Jean-Marie Bonny, Sylvie Clerjon, Carine Chassain, Guilhem Pages, doi: 10.1002/mrc.5250

Quantitative sodium MRI in food: addressing sensitivity issues using single quantum chemical shift imaging at high field, Sylvie Clerjon, Nour El Sabbagh, Guilhem Pages, Amidou Traore, Jean-Marie Bonny, doi: 10.1002/mrc.5239

INRAE Press Office

Scientific contact

Sylvie Clerjon Animal Products Quality Unit - AgroResonance Platform (PROBE)



Learn more

Food, Global Health

The positive impact of dietary guidelines on the environment

PRESS RELEASE - In 2017, France updated its dietary guidelines to incorporate environmental preservation for the first time. Researchers at INRAE, INSERM, Université Paris 13 and Solagro conducted a multi-criteria evaluation of French food-based dietary guidelines based on data from 28,340 participants of the NutriNet-Santé cohort study. Their results, published on 23 March in Nature Sustainability, show that following the new dietary guidelines has a positive impact, not only on people’s health, but also on the environment.

24 March 2020

Food, Global Health

Consumption of Foods With Lower Nutri-Scores Associated With Higher Mortality

PRESS RELEASE- Consuming food products that rank lower on the nutritional quality score underlying the Nutri-Score logo is associated with higher mortality, according to the European cohort EPIC. These findings, obtained by researchers from Inserm, INRAE, Cnam and Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, in collaboration with researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO/IARC), confirm the relevance of Nutri-Score in the context of public health policy. The study was published on September 17, 2020 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

16 September 2020