How yeast extracts reduce the need for salt in food processing


Salt is a crucial part of our diets.

As well as being a dietary necessity, salt has given us the priceless ability to preserve food. And throughout human history, it’s been so prized that entire cities have been built close to salt deposits.

What’s more, salt simply makes food taste good, with many people adding salt to almost any meal.

However, you definitely can have too much of a good thing when it comes to salt – so reducing the need for salt is something that many food manufacturers prioritise.

What is salt reduction in the food processing industry?

Salt is everywhere you look in a supermarket.

Savoury snacks? Of course.

Tomato ketchup? Yep.

Soups? Surprisingly high in salt, sometimes.

However, excess salt intake has been linked to increased blood pressure, and a greater risk of heart disease and stroke so the World Health Organization recommends that adults consume less than 5g of salt per day. Consequently, food manufacturers are under considerable pressure to bring salt levels down when formulating and preparing products. 

But as we’ve already said, salt is an immensely useful – and popular – ingredient in a whole host of foodstuffs. In addition to enhancing flavour, salt helps food producers greatly extend the shelf life of food and also improves texture, all of which can make their products more popular with consumers

So manufacturers strive to find the right balance between the benefits of using salt and catering to healthier lifestyles. To reduce salt in a way that consumers will accept, producers use a combination of food science, innovative methods and consumer communication.

Why is salt reduction in food important?

Consuming too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which means your heart has to work harder. It also results in stiff or narrow arteries, where fatty material (atheroma) can build up.

All this can cause a stroke or heart disease, so WHO Member States have agreed to reduce the global population’s salt intake by a relative 30% by 2025.

With greater knowledge of salt’s impacts on health, many people are trying to reduce the amount of salt in their diets. Even among those without high blood pressure or health issues, there is heightened awareness of the need to eat less salt – thanks in part to more visible food labelling. This awareness has led to a rise in foods promoting themselves as low-salt.

How does yeast extract work to reduce the need for salt in food processing?

When you use certain yeast extracts in a product, you simply don’t need to use as much salt.

Why? Because yeast extracts bring out a natural savoury taste in food, creating a complex flavour profile. The result is a product so flavourful that consumers won’t even notice there’s less salt.

Yeast extracts are naturally rich in glutamic acid and nucleotides, which boost umami and savoury flavours. Umami is one of the five primary taste sensations and shares some similarities with saltiness in their taste perception. When yeast extracts are added to food, their glutamic acid content interacts with specific taste receptors on the tongue known as umami receptors or T1R1/T1R3 taste receptors. This interaction enhances the overall umami taste perception in the dish, reducing the need for salt.

What’s more, yeast extracts are natural, vegan and allergen-free, so they’re a great option for plant-proteins and ranges aimed at consumers seeking natural, healthier alternatives. Soups, sauces, baked goods, snacks and meat-based foods are just some of the products that can use yeast extracts in this way.

How to use yeast extracts to help reduce salt in your applications?

Yeast extracts for food production usually come as a dry powder that is soluble in water. This makes them easy to transport and store, as well as implement in recipes.

However, it’s important to identify the right yeast extract product for the right task. Torula and baker’s yeast extracts are widely used to meet various taste challenges faced by manufacturers. Some will serve to highlight the existing flavour profile of food, while others are great for masking off-notes, increasing salinity or boosting umami when reducing salt content.

Yeast is an incredibly useful and versatile ingredient for food producers. It enables salt reduction without compromising on taste or flavour. And importantly for many consumer segments, it does so naturally.

All told, yeast extracts are a vital tool for making food healthier – by reducing salt whilst restoring taste and boosting flavour intensity.