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It’s role in reducing sodium in foods and in the balance of minerals for heart health


Consultant Food Science and Technology, The Cot, Dilnot Lane,Acol, Birchington, Kent CT7 0HW, United Kingdom


Evidence, including dietary intervention studies, of the role of magnesium in (1) balancing minerals for heart health and (2) reducing sodium in processed foods shows the potential for the use of some mineral salt combinations that include magnesium and potassium, to be effective in improving heart health, whilst maintaining the integrity of reduced-sodium processed food products. The potential methods available to balance the dietary intake of these minerals are being considered very carefully by public health organisations and scientific bodies. Global nutritional guidelines are encouraging sodium reduction in processed foods and increasing dietary magnesium and potassium intake. By using a “functional food” approach to sodium reduction by using balanced mineral salts as salt replacers it may be possible to improve the quality of life for millions of people, and substantially reduce health-care costs.


Some current governmental initiatives to reduce population consumption of salt are relying very heavily on the food industry to voluntarily reduce salt in food products to pre-set salt targets by product category. Targets have been set so that compliance with these standards would insure meaningful reduction in sodium intake levels being met at population level (1-3). In this way it is hoped that the health of communities/nations will be improved, mainly through reduction in hypertension and cardiovascular disease, with the concomitant reduction in health-care costs. This situation leaves the food industry with some challenges to respond to governmental targets and to provide responsible sodium levels in processed foods and then to communicate these through labelling. However, there is evidence that the plea to “cut out salt” from our diets is actually a plea to re-align mineral ratios in the diet. Since the 1900’s the sodium:potassium ratio in our diets has changed from 1:30 to 2.5:1 and the sodium:magnesium ratios from 1:2 to 25:1. It would seem that few formulated foods provide sufficient magnesium and potassium to balance the sodiu ...

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