Food manufacturers could reduce the salt content in bread by 25 per cent, without consumers noticing any difference in taste, according to researchers in Australia.
In a single-blind, randomised, controlled trial at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, 110 volunteers ate bread with the usual sodium content for six consecutive weeks, followed by six consecutive weeks of bread with cumulating 5 per cent sodium reductions each week.
They report that the intervention group were no more likely than the control group to report a difference in the salt content of the bread from week to week. Similarly, there were no differences between randomised groups in the scores for flavour or liking of the bread over the study follow-up period. The bread used in the study was Tip-Top brand bread made by George Weston Foods.
However, the saltiness scores recorded on a visual analogue scale did decline in the intervention group compared with the control group.
Writing in this month's European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the team concludes: "A one-quarter reduction in the sodium content of white bread can be delivered over a short time period, while maintaining consumer acceptance."
The researchers suggest that over the long term, and particularly if achieved for multiple foods, such a decrease in sodium content could reduce levels of blood pressure and the risks of stroke and heart attack in the population.