Current scientific research shows that sodium consumption (primarily in the form of salt) continues to exceed public health recommendations.
Food manufacturers, health professionals, and sodium-conscious consumers are looking for innovative ways to reduce the sodium content in foods and in the diet.
Sodium reduction initiatives continue to be developed and implemented across the globe, as international public health agencies and governments strive to reduce the consumption of dietary sodium. Health experts worldwide agree that consuming too much sodium increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, a serious health condition that is avoidable and is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
Although specific recommendations and actual sodium intakes vary slightly from country to country, excessive sodium intake is prevalent worldwide.
According to the Institute of Medicine (Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence, 2013), despite efforts over the past several decades to reduce dietary intake of sodium, a main component of table salt, the average American adult still consumes 3,400 mg or more of sodium a day – equivalent to about 1½ teaspoons of salt. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans urge most people ages 14 to 50 to limit their sodium intake to 2,300 mg daily.
In the United Kingdom, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends an intake level of 2,400 milligrams per day.
According to Wikipedia, “the habitual salt intake in many Western countries is about 10 g per day, and it is higher than that in many countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. The high level of sodium in many processed foods has a major impact on the total amount consumed.” The current World Health Organization recommendation for adults is to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium (which is equivalent to 5 grams of salt) per day. Specific intake recommendations have also been made by individual countries.
MSG Enhances the Flavor of Low Sodium Recipes and Meals
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid (glutamate), an amino acid which occurs naturally in protein-containing foods such as meat, vegetables and dairy products. Since its discovery over 100 years ago, monosodium glutamate has been used effectively to enhance the umami taste in food. It is also an effective means of reducing the levels of salt used in food preparation. Studies have demonstrated that people find food with low levels of salt much more acceptable when a small amount of monosodium glutamate is added.
MSG is mistakenly thought of as being high in sodium. However, MSG has two-thirds less sodium than table salt (MSG contains approximately 12 percent sodium while table salt contains 39 percent sodium). Since MSG still contains some sodium, it can be used as an ingredient to lower sodium, but not as a salt substitute necessarily.
Consumers are finding MSG to have additional benefits in their diet, and ultimately for their health, by using this safe and effective flavor enhancer to reduce their consumption of sodium. MSG is often an important ingredient for people on a low-sodium diet, because it improves the flavor of a dish while reducing the need for salt. In fact, when MSG is added (increasing the level of glutamate) to meals and recipes, sodium levels can be lowered by up to 40 percent while maintaining the desired flavor.
For more information:
- The Facts about Sodium Reduction and MSG
- Umami and Saltiness
- Research Summary: Glutamate Helps Reduce Sodium Intake
- New research (November 2019), published in the journal Nutrients, showing that glutamates such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be used to significantly reduce sodium in the food supply, especially in the saltiest food categories.