Writing in Food Research International, experts from INRA and CNRS in France the tested the effects of unequal (heterogeneous) salt distribution on saltiness enhancement and consumer acceptability in a hot-served layered snack food - finding that a strategy of unequal or uneven distribution of salt in products can aid in the design and reformulation of snack products with a lower sodium content but high acceptability.
"These data constitute the first experimental report investigating the consumer acceptability in heterogeneous food products and highlight the efficiency of heterogeneous salt distribution to compensate for salt reduction in low salt food products while maintaining consumer acceptability," said the research team - led by Christian Salles from the University of Burgundy.
Salles and his team found that using different salt levels in alternating layers of snack products counterbalances reductions in acceptance from salt reduction.
"Our results show that heterogeneous salt distribution is a powerful strategy to compensate for salt reduction in foods and to design healthier products while optimising taste," they said - adding that the strategy "could likely be easily adapted to a wide range of layered food products" such as other snacks, lasagne noodles, and sandwiches.
"Moreover, this strategy of salt reduction could be combined with other strategies (salt replacement and Odour-Induced Saltiness Enhancement, for example) to further enhance the perception of saltiness."