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Saltiness enhancement by savoury aroma compounds

Savoury aromas may help to boost salt reduction strategies by masking the tastes of sodium replacers such as potassium chloride, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Science.

Unilever researchers have demonstrated that at least a 15 percent salt reduction can be compensated by the use of savoury aromas. A combination of potassium chloride-based salt replacer and savoury aromas was found to compensate approximately 30-percent sodium reduction without significant change of the flavour profiles.

The study demonstrated that multisensory interaction between aroma and taste can be used to compensate for the lower salt levels of healthier food products without disturbing the overall flavour pattern. The demonstrated saltiness enhancement by the savoury flavourings was unraveled by experiments with “salt-congruent” single aroma compounds, using trained and naïve panels. Several savoury compounds of different chemical classes and different sensory impact could be identified as key salt-enhancing compounds, providing a significant increase of perceived saltiness.

As expected, an untrained, naïve panel appeared more suitable to demonstrate multisensory saltiness enhancement due to its synthetic attention than a trained descriptive panel. The salt enhancement results were confirmed by consumer tests. The extra aroma also was found to ameliorate the off-flavour of potassium-based salt replacers, and combinations of extra aroma and salt replacers could replace significant amounts of sodium chloride while keeping the original flavour profile intact.

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