High salt (sodium chloride) content in food is associated with high blood pressure, resulting in widespread recommendations to reduce salt content in processed foods. Seaweed has potential as a flavour replacement, being naturally salty without containing high levels of sodium chloride. The EU-funded TASTE (The application of edible seaweed for taste enhancement and salt replacement) project aimed to investigate three edible species of brown seaweed as a potential replacement for sodium-based flavouring. The species were Ascophyllum nodosum, Saccharina latissima and Fucus vesiculosus. At the beginning of the project researchers created a seaweed flavour and odour language, and identified the chemicals that contributed to this. They also developed a laboratory process to create seaweed flavour building blocks, using enzymes or physical methods to break the seaweed down. TASTE scientists used a wide array of commercially available enzymes for this process, but these resulted in little salt reduction or flavour enhancement. Finally, the project procured an alginase from an enzyme production company that improved the flavour of the building blocks. These flavour ingredients may one day replace high-sodium flavouring in processed foods, reducing heart disease and contributing to the development of the seaweed processing industry.
Seaweed, salt, processed foods, high blood pressure, taste enhancement, salt replacement