Although sodium is an essential nutrient in the diet, increases in sodium can increase blood pressure. Research has linked high sodium consumption with greater risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Evidence has shown that men and women age 51 or older, African Americans or those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease face especially high risks.

When altering the sodium content of many foods, salt can replace salt when the “new” salt is a technologically advanced version of the old one. Don Mower, president and COO of Nu-Tek Food Science, Minnetonka, MN, and Tom McCurry, executive vice-president of Cain Food Industries, Dallas, discuss how and why this strategy works.

What types of salt do Nu-Tek and Cain Food offer that could help cut sodium in baked foods and snacks?

Don Mower: Nu-Tek Food Science offers Nu-Tek Salt Advanced Formula KCL, a patented, single-crystal, one-to-one replacement for salt in baked foods and snacks.

Tom McCurry: Cain Food Industries, Inc. is the exclusive sales partner for Nu-Tek Food Science and its Nu-Tek Advanced Formula KCL. Nu-Tek Advanced Formula KCL is a patented single-crystal potassium chloride product that is the ideal solution for reducing salt 30 to 50% in just about any type of grain-based food.

What is it about these products that enables lowering of sodium content?

Mower: Nu-Tek Salt Advanced Formula KCL is a unique single-crystal that maintains the taste and functionality of salt, while reducing the sodium level in products by up to 50%. The single-crystal structure minimizes the bitterness often associated with potassium chloride, while the expanded surface area creates a greater salt-like intensity than the typical potassium chloride particle. This allows manufacturers to create a reduced-sodium product without the use of flavor systems or maskers, providing an efficient all-natural solution to sodium reduction.

McCurry: In baked foods, salt brings not only flavor but function to the dough system. The Nu-Tek product delivers on both accounts by replacing salt on a 1:1 basis up to 50%. One of the most difficult aspects of reducing sodium in a baked good is the flavor component. At low levels, 1.8 to 2%, salt delivers a significant boost to the flavor of all baked goods. However, when you drop below those levels, the flavor quality of the product begins to drop off. The addition of Nu-Tek at the 30 to 50% replacement levels mentioned delivers the salt flavor intensity you expect when biting into a loaf of bread, English muffin, bagel, etc.

Research supports the benefits of a lower sodium diet. Nancy Cook, a statistician at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and a research team analyzed data from a previous large study called the Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP) designed to look at high blood pressure. The TOHP followed the field's "gold-standard" technique of measuring salt consumption in 24-hour urine samples. "We found there were no adverse effects with lower amounts of sodium and benefits continued to be seen at the lowest sodium levels," she said.

In a study published in 2013, Cook along with another group of researchers projected that up to 500,000 deaths could be avoided in the US each year if more Americans reduced salt in their diets.

Foods containing high sodium include bread, cured meat, pizza, poultry, soup, cheese and snacks, according to Lyn Steffen of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.