Phosphates Aid Sodium Reduction

According to a Natural Marketing Institute study, heart disease ranks as Americans’ top health concern. Many factors contribute to heart disease, but the medical and food industries have pinpointed sodium intake as a contributing factor. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines encourage a reduction in salt and sodium intake, and sodium reduction has become a growing trend in America’s movement toward “better-for-you” foods.

Phosphates serve multiple functions as ingredients for food formulation and production. Sodium-free phosphates can be used to replace sodium-based phosphate ingredients, which help formulators develop the better-for-you products consumers demand. Two markets where sodium reduction is a key focus are baked goods and beverages.

According to Barbara Heidolph, principal at ICL Performance Products LP, “Our food phosphate specialists work directly with food manufacturers, so we are aware of the demands from consumers, the government and the industry to reduce sodium levels. Food phosphates that contain zero or reduced levels of sodium offer an excellent functional alternative, because they provide similar, if not better, finished product characteristics.”

A broad range of phosphate-based leavening acids is available. Each provides unique characteristics to help formulators achieve the correct release time, optimum volume and positive health benefits. The health benefits are growing in importance for many formulators, especially sodium reduction.

Phosphate-based leavening acids, like ICL Performance Products’ Levona® products, aid bakers in formulating healthier products, because they have zero sodium and are calcium-rich. The original Levona® Opus and the new Levona® Brio can be used in place of traditional leavening acids to achieve both sodium reduction and calcium fortification. When Levona is used to replace common chemical leaveners, such as sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP), bakers can achieve a significant reduction in sodium--sometimes greater than 25%--while maintaining desired volume, texture and flavor characteristics. Levona also can provide an 8% sodium reduction, when used in place of sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP).

“As an added benefit, phosphate-based leavening acids leave a clean flavor profile,” says Heidolph. “Levona Opus and Levona Brio can provide greater volume and improved texture in some applications vs. more conventional calcium- or sodium-based leavening agents, because of their ideal controlled reaction rate.”

Phosphate use in beverage formulations is not new. Formulators have used sodium polyphosphates that work synergistically with preservative systems to improve shelflife stability. Now, formulators can both extend shelflife and reduce sodium levels by using a mixed cation (potassium and sodium) polyphosphate. One example, ICL Performance Products’ Benephos®, has 70% of the sodium replaced by potassium and helps beverage manufacturers meet the sodium-reduction demand, maintain shelflife and provide potassium fortification. Benephos has a potassium concentration between 23-26% and a sodium concentration of 5-8%. This is in comparison to a sodium polyphosphate, which can contain as much as 22-27% sodium.

The demand for sodium reduction will continue, as consumers focus more on the potential health risks and benefits associated with the nutritional composition of their foods and beverages. Food phosphates provide an excellent alternative, when sodium reduction is desired, allowing formulators to meet consumers’ demand for sodium reduction with minimal impact on taste, texture and other food characteristics.  

For more information:
ICL Performance Products LP • St. Louis
Barbara Heidolph • 800-244-6169 •