"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