A pinch less salt makes a big difference

Lantmännen Unibake’s organisation in Finland, Vaasan has set a new target to reduce salt and improve cardiovascular health

It’s no news that too much salt in the diet is a bad thing for health. What can be surprising to learn is the dramatic effect when the salt in bread is reduced by just a small amount.

A study initiated by the Vaasan group marketing team in Finland has found a significant effect on cardiovascular disease if the average salt level in bread is cut from 1.2 to 1.1%. The findings point to around 460 fewer cases of arterial disease over the next 10 years.

Salt policy

This is the background for the Finnish organisation’s salt policy. By 2018, the goal is to reduce the salt content of all fresh and bake-off bread products sold in Finland by 10%.

“We have very high rates of cardiovascular disease in Finland. At the same time the population eats too much salt – and consumption has actually increased in recent years,” says Marika Lyly, nutrition and research manager at Vaasan, part of Lantmännen Unibake.

“High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular events.”

Bread is a significant source of salt in the average Finnish diet, accounting for 17% of all salt consumed. Finland is not alone, though. In Norway, for example, 22% of salt intake comes from bread.

Reduction in silence

In the bakery, the challenge is that salt is important to the taste and texture of bread. Previous experience has shown that low-salt bread is typically not a commercial success because many consumers like a salty flavour.

“Now when we reduce the salt content of our bread products, we do so in silence without communicating it to consumers on the packaging. Instead we communicate the overall reduction goal of 10% and target our communication towards health professionals,” Marika says.

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