Many consumers — and their doctors — worry about salt, and savory flavors provide a means to reduce a food’s sodium content without compromising flavor impact.

Salt extenders provide one answer, but savory flavors are even better. “A number of bold low-sodium savory flavors like garlic and onion can fill the gaps when salt has been reduced and give consumers the full flavor they desire,” said Bruce Murphy, vice-president, Mother Murphy’s Laboratories, Greensboro, NC.

In the mouth, these compounds add the impact of umami, one of the five basic tastes perceived by the tongue. Thus, such flavors enhance others present, boosting the perception of saltiness while cutting overall sodium levels. Umami is why yeast extracts can successfully replace monosodium glutamate as well as reduce salt, according to Claude-Emilie Martimbeau, operational marketing manager, North America, Bio Springer, Montreal, QC.

“Savory tastes promote flavor satisfaction,” explained Phil Sprovieri, vice-president of sales and marketing, Flavorchem Corp., Downers Grove, IL. “In other words, you don’t need that much salt when you have all that savory flavor up front.” Among the first products to take advantage of the substitution of savory for salty were flavored snack nuts and seeds.

Hot, impactful flavor profiles really pay off in salt-reduction applications. “They provide a strong surge of flavor that satisfies consumers,” said Rudy Roeskin, general manager, corporate vice-president of food ingredients, QualiTech, Inc., Chaska, MN.