How to Lower Your Salt Intake, Without Sacrificing Flavor: The Science Behind Naturiffic Gourmet Salts
By now, you may have heard about the recent launch of our new Gourmet Salt line, and you may have even read about the history of my wife's health problems, which was the genesis of us being much more diligent about what we were eating.
However until now, I haven't shared the science behind the development of our Gourmet Salt line.
One of the (many) food restrictions my wife had come across in her journey back to health, was a ban on anything considered a "nightshade", and the list is long:
- Goji Berries
- Peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers, paprika, tamales, pimentos, cayenne, etc)
She doesn't just need to avoid these, but anything that is a derivative of these (IE: Tomato paste, Paprika Powder, Potato Starch, etc)
Through the process of trying to figure out how to feed her safely and still be able to provide great meals for the family, I found that using a high-end sea salt mixed with select herbs and citrus provided great flavors without getting other complex ingredients involved.
During a late night session onthe computer seeking out recipes and options to BBQ spice rubs (she can't eat many of the ingredients in a typical rub), I stumbled upon what turned out to be the secret behind our new Gourmet Salts.
Buried deep in a 500+ page white paper from the Institute for Medicine was the answer to the question; How can you reduce salt, without sacrificing flavor?
The report is titled: Strategies to Reduce Intake of Sodium in the Unites States - and I will be quoting from it often in this post.
(Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake; Henney JE, Taylor CL, Boon CS, editors. Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010) and is available here in PDF format for those that want to read more of the paper.
There are many interesting and important tidbits in this report, but one of the most enlightening ones is shown in the pie chart to the right. The data shows that 94.3% of our salt comes from the salt added in food preparation and cooking. It goes on to further explain that the largest part of this (77% of the our salt intake) comes from processed and restaurant food (think fast food). Less than 5% of our salt intake comes from table salt
In a study, participants were served low sodium beef stew and then given a salt shaker and instructed to add as much salt back as needed. They discovered that only 22% of the removed sodium was replaced by table salt. Another separate study had correlating data that showed less than 20% was added back.
The study continues and goes in depth on how we have seen sodium increases over the past 40 years (see bar chart on right) and then delves into the challenges of getting society to consume less salt.
Their recommendations are many, and include FDA limits on sodium in processed food, along with encouraging food manufacturers and restaurants to voluntarily reduce the use of sodium in food preparation. However it is the following advice that hit home (and it is reiterated throughout the report)
:For example, use of fruits and vegetable and other minimally processed fresh foods as well as herbs, spices, and aromatics..: Wow okay, now there is something I can grab onto.
We had already reduced our use or processed foods to the point we hardly eat canned foods of any type, we have also curtailed eating at fast food restaurants.
Because we are eating more fresh foods and minimally processed meats, making the jump to using less salt to cook with and at the table seemed to be the next logical step.
There is the road map; use fresh herbs, spices and citrus to help enhance the salt we use, thereby using less of it and reducing the sodium in our diet.
Bingo! Naturiffic Gourmet Salts were born.
We use a very high quality coarse Sicilian sea salt and add herbs, spices and citrus in roughly a 50/50 ratio. So when you use a teaspoon of our salt, you get roughly 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the herb mixture. Citrus plays the role of salt enhancer.
The end result is you get a teaspoon worth of salty flavor while only ingesting the equivalent to a 1/2 teaspoon of sodium. The coarse grains of the Sicilian sea salt play an important role as well, allowing you to meter the amount of salt you are adding through feel and sight.
Try our Gourmet Salts on your next meal and you will be surprised at how much flavor can be achieved without using an excess amount of salt.