How bakers can reduce sodium levels with enzymes

A study from the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) has revealed that salt levels in bread are still too high. But what can bakers do to reduce sodium? 

While reducing salt in bread does have an impact on taste, it can also impact texture. Enzymes aimed at influencing the gluten behavior in bread can help.

Salt levels still too high

Despite progress made in the industry to reduce salt levels, WASH shows that many breads still exceed the recommended salt limits. The research also shows that bread contributes a significant amount of sodium to the average diet, because people eat it so often.

A recent DSM study showed that a huge 40% of consumers in the US and Europe have bread for breakfast each day. This means salt intake starts with the very first meal. High salt intake is linked with high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, and sodium reduction is a serious priority for food producers, the medical community, and consumers alike.

The impact of salt on texture

At the same time, achieving significant sodium reduction in bread remains a challenge for many bakers. Salt reduction in bread recipes will negatively impact dough behavior during processing, and impact the shape and volume of baked bread. It can also result in a less fine and smooth crumb structure, and a bread with a shorter shelf life.

This happens for two reasons. One, reducing sodium in bread recipes leads to a loss of osmotic pressure. This influences fermentation and certain characteristics of the bread, such as crust color. Two, the reduction of sodium leads to poor hydration of the gluten. This is a prerequisite for gluten protein network formation.

It is this second part of the equation that makes the biggest difference. A weaker gluten network leads to decreased dough stability, reduced development, and a stickier dough that is harder to handle.

Addressing gluten hydration

There are several enzymes that influence gluten development in bread. But to tackle the challenges of salt reduction, bakers need to address gluten hydration. Besides hydrolyzing water-unextractable arabinoxylan, hemicellulase also hydrolyses water-extractable arabinoxylan (WE-AX). This allows improved gluten hydration.

DSM developed BakeZyme® FXP1500 hemicellulase with a high preference for degrading WE-AX. In baking trials, we found that 20 ppm of BakeZyme® FXP hemicellulase restored softness, crumb structure, and volume in white tin breads with 30% less salt. The enzyme also improved dough extensibility, non-stickiness, and dough development, and tolerance over the control.

Thirty percent for a healthier future

In their release, WASH encourages countries to target a 30% reduction of sodium in bread by 2025. This change could save millions of lives and significantly reduce public health costs. But it doesn’t need to impact enjoyment for consumers. Considered salt reduction strategies which include gradual salt reduction, taste solutions, and enzymes for a better texture could enable healthier, great-tasting bread—for everyone.

Published on

16 October 2018