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Bamboo salts may act as sodium replacer: Study

By Nathan Gray , 24-Sep-2010

Purple bamboo salts may improve the chemical and sensory properties of meat products - whilst reducing sodium content, according to researchers.

The new study, published in Meat Science, suggests that meat batters formulated with bamboo salts have better physical, chemical, and sensory properties when compared to batters made with conventional, commercially available sodium chloride.

“Bamboo salts effectively improved the physicochemical properties of the meat batter… Thus bamboo salts may have potential in the food industry,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Cheon-Jei Kim, of the Konkuk University, South Korea.

Common use

Commercial salt (sodium chloride - NaCl) is commonly used in the production of meat products because it acts as a flavour enhancer, increasing the intensity of flavours. Salt solutions also extract myosin proteins from muscle fibres - increasing emulsion stability, processing stability, water binding, and yield of meat batters.

However, high salt intake is correlated with hypertension – a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

As such reducing sodium levels in meat products has become a major goal for manufacturers. But such reductions can have major negative impacts as it can not only reduce the perceived saltiness, but also impair the overall flavour of meat products.

Nevertheless with consumers increasing interest in foods that not only meet nutritional needs, but also offer health benefits, it is important to investigate options for salt replacement, note the authors.

Bamboo salts are produced by placing sea salt in thick bamboo stubs and baking them together with pine tree firewood, the process is suggested to purify the sea salt and infuse the oils from the bamboo.

Ancient bamboo salts were baked two or three times, before being used in traditional medical treatments, however it is now common for bamboo salt to be baked more than nine times before use.

In Korea, bamboo salts are often eaten to promote health, as they are not associated with the health risks of commercial salt and contain additional minerals that have been suggested to offer health benefits.

The new research investigated the effects of bamboo salts on meat batter – using three different batters: one made from conventional NaCl (CON), one with twice-baked bamboo salts (BS-2), and one produced with bamboo salt that was baked nine times (BS-9).

Significant differences

The researchers reported the overall acceptability score between commercial (CON) and bamboo salts (BS-9) to be significantly different. Differences were observed in tenderness, colour, flavour, juiciness and overall acceptability between, with CON having a lower colour and flavour score than the other treatments.

In a texture profile analysis, batter containing BS-9 bamboo salt was observed to have the lowest hardness, and reduced gumminess and chewiness.

Bamboo salts also influenced the physico-chemical properties of the meat batter, the researchers observed that the pH of the batter containing bamboo salt was higher - the authors noted that this is because bamboo salt contains high levels of K, Ca, and alkali minerals.

Bamboo salt meat batters were also seen to have improved water holding capacity (WHC), viscosity, cooking yield, emulsion stability, and texture.

The authors concluded that bamboo salts could have potential uses in the food industry, especially in processed meat products. However they warned that further work investigating the physico-chemical properties of bamboo salt products is needed before they could be safely used in foods.

“Research is needed on the shelf-life of meat products with added bamboo salt because of their higher pH,” added the researchers.

Source: Meat Science
Volume 86, Issue 4, Pages 960-965, doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2010.08.001
“Effect of bamboo salt on the physicochemical properties of meat emulsion systems”
Authors: H.Y. Kim, E.S. Lee, J.Y. Jeong, J.H. Choi, Y.S. Choi, D.J. Han, M.A. Lee, S.Y. Kim, C.J. Kim

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