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Healthier Salt in Fish Processing

by Ellen Hardy
27 March 2008, at 12:00am

NORWAY - Replace traditional salt in fish processing with a healthier alternative. Scientist Rune Larsen makes this suggestion in his PhD dissertation.

The Nofima (formerly Fiskeriforskning) scientist has also studied to what degree substances beneficial to our health are lost during processing of fish.

Salt

Health authorities want us to eat less salt in order to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. One method can be to replace normal salt - Sodium Chloride (NaCl) - with Potassium Chloride (KCl), which is found, for example, in Seltin, a low sodium table salt.

"Around 75-80 percent of salt intake comes from processed food, so it's in the processing industry where the biggest cuts can be made," says Larsen.

Replacing normal salt with Potassium Chloride (KCl) in processed fish products can provide positive health benefits, says Scientist Rune Larsen.

Different taste

Larsen found that KCl had many of the same properties as NaCl and, as such, it can be a good replacement. But he emphasises that utilising KCl is a major challenge as it gives a different taste.

However, Larsen believes that it may be possible to replace up to 30-50 percent of the unhealthy salt with a healthier alternative without affecting the taste.

Loss of health benefits

Another of the study's findings was that the content of some health-giving substances decreased by up to 50 percent during processing and cooking.

"The reduction of a substance called taurine was of particular interest," says Larsen.

Fresh research from the University of Tromsø by Professors Elvevoll and Østerud shows that taurine has a positive effect on health. Nofima is collaborating with these researchers.

Retaining the positive

Larsen will now study more closely to what degree healthy substances are lost during processing and cooking of fish.

"We want to study if the fish is as healthy when it's on the plate as when it is first caught," says the newly graduated Doctor.

"What we do with the fish or shrimp before we eat it is important for the content of healthy substances."

The objective is to retain as much as possible of the healthy substances.

Ellen Hardy