Potassium Chloride: Safe Salt Alternative
Increased use of potassium chloride in food products could have a positive effect on public health by helping consumers reduce salt consumption and increasing the intake of potassium
Many manufacturers use potassium chloride when they are formulating low-sodium or reduced sodium products. This salt substitute provides a seasoning alternative for manufacturers looking to reduce sodium, while also maintaining flavor by using potassium chloride to imitate salt (sodium chloride) in food products.
While chemists give sodium chloride a saltiness index rating of 1.0, potassium chloride achieves a saltiness index of 0.6. In addition, potassium ions are slightly larger in size than sodium ions. Potassium occurs naturally in many foods such as bananas, tomatoes and tomato products, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and fat-free and low-fat dairy foods. Potassium chloride has regulatory approval for use in food products domestically in the US and globally.
Increased use of potassium chloride in place of salt in food products could have a positive effect on public health by helping consumers reduce salt consumption and increase the intake of potassium—both recommendations advocated by the American Heart Association to help reduce risk of hypertension.. Currently, research has shown that the general population’s potassium levels are well below the recommended potassium intake of 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day.
Recently, researchers in the Netherlands studied the dietary impact of replacing various levels of sodium chloride (20%, 50% and 100%) in certain food products with potassium chloride. Replacing sodium chloride using the three reformulation scenarios resulted in a median increase in potassium intake of 453 mg per day in the lowest (20%) reformulation scenario and up to 733 mg per day in the total (100%) replacement scenario. In the 20% scenario, the increase in potassium was about the same as the amount of potassium available in one medium-sized banana; in the 100% scenario, more potassium than 1.5 medium bananas was added. The Dutch researchers stated that by replacing sodium chloride with potassium chloride, particularly in key sodium-contributing foods such as breads, processed fruits and veggies, snacks and processed meats, would help the general population better meet recommended sodium reductions and potassium intake guidelines.
While no established upper limit for potassium intake exists, potassium chloride cannot be used in unlimited quantities as at higher levels it loses its ability to convey saltiness and can have an off-taste, characterized as bitter, or chemical and metallic. Depending on the food product, different levels of potassium chloride along with blends of potassium chloride and other seasonings have been used to replace sodium chloride without sacrificing the flavor of the food product.
Cargill is committed to helping our customers create great tasting foods and achieve their sodium reduction goals. Our sodium reduction solutions range from specialty salt solutions that maximize flavor burst and minimize sodium levels, to functionality enhanced potassium chloride options. Cargill's Sodium Reduction Solutions.
van Buren, L.; Dötsch-Klerk, M.; Seewi, G.; Newson, R.S. 2016. Dietary Impact of Adding Potassium Chloride to Foods as a Sodium Reduction Technique. Nutrients 8:235-247. Accessed via: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848703/
Prepared Foods, “Balancing Low-Sodium Products and Gourmet Salt Demand,” June 12, 2015. By Winston Boyd and David Feder. Go to: http://www.preparedfoods.com/articles/116525-balancing-low-sodium-products-and-gourmet-salt-demand?v=preview
Food Processing, “Campbell Soup Supports 'Potassium Salt' Rewording,” Jan. 6, 2017. By Dave Fusaro. Go to: http://www.foodprocessing.com/industrynews/2017/campbell-soup-supports-potassium-salt-rewording/
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