Israeli company Salt of the Earth says its all-natural Mediterranean Umami ingredient can reduce both sugar and sodium in savory sauces, Food Ingredients First reports.
The company is targeting ketchup, barbecue, dressings, pizza and pasta sauces, chutneys and sauces for ready-to-eat meals. Although these are predominantly savory applications, they also are often high in sugar.
The ingredient is a combination of natural vegetable extracts – which are high in umami – and sea salt, which boosts the natural flavors in finished products. The company says it can reduce sodium in finished products by up to 45% and sugar by up to 25%.
Umami is one of the five basic tastes, alongside sweet, salty, bitter and sour. It is defined by its rich savory, mouth-filling flavor and is found naturally in foods such as soy sauce, seaweed, tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms. Apart from adding flavor in its own right, umami has been shown to enhance other flavors in foods – leading to increased interest in umami-rich compounds for sodium reduction.
Salt of the Earth’s new ingredient plays on umami’s ability to enhance all the flavors in a food, including sweetness and saltiness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of children and 89% of adults consume more than the recommended sodium levels. In addition, more than three-quarters of U.S. sodium intake comes from processed and restaurant foods. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association recommends a nine-teaspoon daily limit for consumption of added sugars – but average intakes are about 23 teaspoons.
As consumers have become more aware of the need to reduce sugar and sodium for their health, ingredients companies have come up with a wide range of options to help manufacturers cut these elements without sacrificing flavor. Even if the product is good for the consumer, if it doesn't taste good they won't buy it. But one of the biggest challenges has been to answer consumer demand for natural ingredients at the same time. Popular clean label approaches include using herbs and spices and strong, exotic flavors to boost flavor in low sodium foods. Natural sweetening alternatives include honey and stevia, but so far nothing is a perfect replacement for sugar in terms of taste and functionality.
Condiments may seem like a small part of most people’s diets, but if the Mediterranean Umami ingredient can significantly reduce both sugar and salt in these products, it could open the way to similar experimentation in other applications. What’s more, with one teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of ketchup, reducing sugar as well as sodium could quickly add up to healthier eating.