In recent years there has been a move towards healthier eating and more awareness around the impact of salt and sugar in processed food.
Salt, for example, is used in food manufacturing to improve taste. Table salt (sodium chloride) can reduce bitterness while enhancing the sweet, sour and umami flavours in both sweet and savoury formulations. But excess consumption of salt is one of the leading causes of diet-related disease and death. A 2023 global report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that we consume on average over 4,000 mg of sodium every day – double the recommended amount.1 With this in mind, a reduction in salt intake could have a very positive impact on people's health.
In order to reduce the harmful effects of salt in formulations, manufacturers can utilize alternative compounds such as potassium-based salt, magnesium-based salt and calcium salt. However, these increase the perception of off-notes and bitterness, resulting in a finished product that is less tasty.
Reducing sugar is another key health consideration. Sugar adds not only sweetness but mouthfeel, texture and structure of a finished product. Like salt, sugar is also used to enhance texture and balance overall flavour – even processed savoury foods may contain high levels of sugar without tasting sweet.
Flavour enhancers and additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), are also used in food processing to enhance the sensation of taste. But consumers are increasingly adopting a clean label approach to the foods they consume and are turning to products made from natural ingredients.
With 58% of European consumers seeking to improve their daily diets, manufacturers face a challenge: how to reduce salt, sugar and other flavour enhancers in a finished product without a compromising its sensorial qualities, all while maintaining shelf life and commercial viability?2
Umami and kokumi
Umami and kokumi have become more and more recognised in Western society as the fifth and sixth tastes after the more basic tastes of salt, sweet, sour and bitter.
Translated from the Japanese meaning ‘essence of deliciousness’, umami is known for its rich, savoury and ‘meaty’ qualities. It can be perceived in foods such as mature cheeses, seaweed, mushrooms, tomatoes and kimchi, among others. Kokumi, meanwhile, translates as ‘heartiness’ or ‘richness’. Instead of having a specific tangible taste, kokumi is more of a perceived taste or sensation that is activated by glutamyl peptides that occur naturally in fermented and aged foods, such as fish sauce, soy sauce and bread.
While MSG can be added to enhance flavour and the umami or kokumi qualities of processed foods, such as meat sauces, it can only represent the savoury qualities in a narrow sense and does not satisfy our complete experience of a deliciousness. Neither does it improve the texture or perception of thickening of sauces, nor meet consumer demand as a natural, clean label ingredient. However, unlike other basic taste sensations, monosodium glutamate can only represent umami in a narrow sense, which cannot satisfy our complete experience of delicious feeling.
According to WHO, choosing ingredients that are high in umami qualities could help UK adults reduce daily salt intake by around 9-18%.3 Therefore, by leveraging the natural essence of umami and kokumi to enhance a product’s finished flavour and mouthfeel, manufacturers can achieve both the sensorial attributes that consumers seek, as well as salt and sugar reduction.
Yeast extract as a healthier alternative
Yeasts are naturally occurring everywhere in nature. Yeast extract contains amino acids, peptides, nucleotides and other soluble components and is obtained by extraction under the action of yeast’s own enzymes or additional enzymes. In the food industry, yeast can be used as a natural ingredient, unlike MSG which is denoted as an E number. Yeast extract not only enhances umami and kokumi, it also contributes to a fuller texture and improved aftertaste, particularly in savoury meat sauces.
Yeast extracts can help manufacturers mask off flavours that occur when salt is reduced in food processing and achieve perceived freshness and desired texture. Yeast also aligns with a clean label approach that is fast being adopted by consumers.
Aligning with consumer demand for umami and kokumi tastes from more natural sources, Angel Yeast has developed Angeoboost to help manufacturers effectively enhance flavour, mask off-notes, thereby replacing MSG and reducing salt and sugar. Each Angeoboost product has different characteristics that can help to improve nutritional properties according to application in order to elevate taste and texture of low-salt and low-sugar products.
Angeoboost is a high umami yeast extract that can be used as a more natural alternative for MSG. Rich in amino acids, natural nucleotides and polypeptides, Angeoboost is a clean-label ingredient that can reduce salt in formulations without compromising on taste and texture.
Inclusion of Angeoboost FIG18LS at a dose of 0.1-0.4% adds freshness, thickness and meat flavour, masking the effects of high temperature steam treatment. Inclusion of Angeoboost (KU248/KU012) at a dose of 0.1-0.4% increases the freshness and thickness of flavour, masking the effects of high temperature steam treatment.
In savoury meat sauces, Angeoboost can help to elevate formulations in a number of ways:
1. Clean label, natural ingredients. Yeast extracts are rich in fresh tasting amino acids, nucleotides and other components, which can reduce or eliminate the need for MSG in savoury meat sauces.
2. Salt reduction. Yeast extracts are rich in peptides, which have the effect of enhancing salty taste and thus reducing the addition of salt.
3. Increase freshness, texture and meatiness. The various peptides that are rich in yeast extracts, as well as amino acids, nucleotides and meat flavour precursors, can enhance the overall freshness and meat flavour of savoury meat sauces.
4. Masking off-flavours and balancing the overall flavour. The rich peptide components in yeast extracts can mask a ‘fishy’ taste, high-temperature steaming taste, and other off-flavours, thereby enhancing overall flavour.
Angel Yeast has also created Angeoprime, a series which naturally contains a high content of amino acids and flavour peptides that collectively work to bring out the unique flavours of savoury foods, such as meat sauces. Including Angeoprime in sauce formulations at a dose of 0.3%-0.6% can increase the richness and savoury depth of meat sauces while removing any unpleasant ‘fishy’ taste or effects from high temperature steam treatment.
As consumers increasingly demand healthier alternatives of traditional foods, manufacturers who are committed to developing innovative solutions for healthier lifestyles can be confident that partnering with Angel Yeast will align with their future goals.
1. WHO Global Report on Sodium Intake Reduction (2023).
2. Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, 2022.
3. Reducing salt intake with umami: A secondary analysis of data in the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey.