Salt is in almost all of your favorite foods and, if it’s not, there is a good chance there is a salt shaker nearby that will help change that. However, with growing concerns about how high-levels of sodium can be detrimental to our health, many of us are looking to cut back on our sodium intake.  Focusing on the food production and baking side of things, here are some tips for understanding sodium and what you can do to reduce usage and intake in your products.

Salt is 40% sodium 60% chloride based on weight, and it does more than simply make your french fries taste better, it is also one of the world’s oldest preservatives, it adds texture and tenderizes cured meats, and even controls fermentation of our favorite baked goods. Yet, even with all of the benefits of salt, studies have shown that high-sodium diets have been associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. To give an idea of how this salt craze has gotten out of control, the USDA says we should intake no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily and the average American takes in roughly 4,000 milligrams – nearly double the daily maximum.

With this high level of salt usage in America, what are real ways that we can, as food producers, really make changes to how we make food and educate consumers? Here are a few sodium reduction tips that will go a long way.

Understand Where the Salt Comes From: Just because salt isn’t in the list of ingredients doesn’t mean that it isn’t in the product. Any meat and many vegetables have sodium in them naturally. This should be factored in to whether or not you decide to add any additional sodium into the recipe.

Know the Labels: This goes both for consumers and producers, understand what labels are on products. Sodium Free contains 5 mg of sodium or less, Very Low Sodium contains 35 mg or less, Low Sodium contains 140 mg or less, Reduced Sodium means the product’s usual level of sodium is reduced by 25% or more, and Unsalted or No Salt Added means it may contain sodium but none was added.

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Know Your Alternatives: There are ways to reduce sodium levels in a product that doesn’t necessarily change the flavor of the product like adding potassium chloride or other flavor alternatives. Even soy sauce, while it has sodium in it, there is less sodium than there is in natural salt. You can also simply reduce the amount of salt used in a recipe – while this may change the flavor of the recipe but you might find that you can reduce sodium by a large amount without really sacrificing taste.

All of these things will help you reduce sodium intake, and help in making products that are healthier for your customers.

Consider low sodium or salt alternatives like Cargill’s SaltWise system which can reduce sodium levels between 25 and 50 percent, while still giving your foods great flavor and salty taste.

We also have a full selection of Cargill products in their FlakeSelect™ line that you can use to maintain the full salt flavor but reduce the actual level of sodium. The FlakeSelect™ portfolio includes a FlakeSelect™ KCI/Potassium Chloride, FlakeSelect™ KCI/Salt, FlakeSelect™ KCI/Sea Salt and FlakeSelect™ Salt.