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Salt: Pillar or Poison to Human Health?

July 14, 2008

The phrase, “international salt talks” takes on a whole new meaning as ingredients-savvy consumers worldwide demand healthy salt in their diets. Throughout history, the world’s populations have had a hearty interest in salt–sometimes financial, sometimes as a trade commodity, sometimes religious, sometimes medicinal–but always as a flavor-enhancing ingredient in foods, and as a component of health.

In Ancient times, the lack of access to salt could have serious health repercussions:

The chemical requirements of the human body demand that the salt concentration in the blood be kept constant. If the body does not get enough salt, a hormonal mechanism compensates by reducing the excretion of salt in the urine and sweat. But it cannot reduce this output to zero. On a completely salt-free diet the body steadily loses small amounts of salt via the kidneys and sweat glands. It then attempts to adjust this by accelerating its secretion of water, so that the blood’s salt concentration can be maintained at the vital level. The result is a gradual desiccation of the body and finally death. (BLOCH, M. R. 1963. “The Social Influence of Salt.” Scientific American 209: 89 – 98.)

In the modern era, the use of salt has evolved from industrialized, chemically processed and fortified salt to specialty sources, processes and varieties; the world of salt is increasingly diversified as food processors meet and exceed the demands of health-conscious and flavor-sensitive consumers.

Ocean’s Flavor is one such specialty ocean salt processor, providing a natural lower-sodium, healthier and tasty alternative to traditional salt. Ocean’s Flavor Natural Sea Salts are specialty products with natural low-sodium ranges from 45% lower sodium to 70% lower sodium than other standard table salt or sea salt. This is due to the company’s tight patent-pending restrictions that can optimize the environment’s natural ability to produce a salt comprised of lower sodium, while maintaining great taste and the ocean’s healthy minerals which are required for a balanced diet and healthy body.

“Over the last two years, Ocean’s Flavor has experienced tremendous growth due to the public’s demand for lower sodium products,” said Alan Fisher, Ocean’s Flavor president. “This need has been further supported by newer and more defined sodium intake guidelines, as set forth by the American Heart Association, American Medical Association and The Center for Science here in the United States. Paralleling these new requirements are the new stringent restrictions in the United Kingdom.”

Today health concerns center on diets which have excesses in salt. For example, U.S. consumers have a love affair with salt, ingesting six to 18 grams of salt daily, while the average person needs only 0.5 grams per day. The excess that Americans ingest leads to heart disease and strokes–the number one and number three killers in the U.S. respectively.

The Food Standards Agency, the public health department of the United Kingdom, has been very active with their “Salt Campaign,” constructed to edify and then alter the proclivity for excess salt use in citizens’ diets.

Although a healthy Western diet provides ample salt within foods for nutrition and good health, consumers are not likely to give up enhancing their dishes and menus with the flavorsome granules.

So how on Earth can food processors and producers offer the culinary and sensory excellence and healthful salt consumers demand? Indeed, the Ocean is the answer, as sea salt is naturally lower in sodium. But not all sea salts on the market are “created” equally. The unique method by which Ocean’s Flavor produces ready-for-market sea salt makes it a real sea salt and can be labeled as such because it is harvested following an all natural evaporation process.

Another positive for culinary production with the highest standards is “lowered water activity.” Ocean’s Flavor Sea Salts naturally bind more water than other sea salts used for consumption. This binding significantly lowers the water activity and therefore offers added value to the food industry–specifically, increased shelf life and improved stability.

Typical composition for two Ocean’s Flavor Sea Salts (g per 100 g)

 OF-45LSN Sodium..............................................              22.0 Chloride............................................              34.0 Sulfate.............................................              23.0 Potassium...........................................               9.0 Magnesium...........................................               2.0 Trace Elements......................................               0.3 Free and Bound Moisture.............................              10.0 Lead................................................ Less than 0.00001  OF-57LSB Sodium..............................................              17.0 Chloride............................................              53.0 Potassium...........................................              28.0 Trace Elements......................................               0.3 Free and Bound Moisture.............................               2.0 Lead................................................ Less than 0.00002 

Both are natural Sea Salts with 45% and 57% less sodium than table salt, respectively. White crystals are free flowing with non-metallic taste and dissolve quickly, yielding a clear solution with minimal insolubles.

Testifying at December’s Food and Drug Administration’s hearing, Steven Havas, American Medical Association’s (AMA) vice president for science, quality and public health, analogized that the number of U.S. deaths attributable to excess salt intake “is the equivalent of a jumbo jet with more than 400 passengers crashing every day of the year, year after year.”

Consumers can and often do provoke change in the food industry, but the food industry is also driving the dynamic of healthier ingredients in the foods they produce. The recent FDA hearing underscores this new positioning within the industry. Alan Kirchner, Ocean’s Flavor CEO and Ty Smith of TekPack Inc. attended the hearing. Kirchner remarked, “The fact that the AMA and AHA provided comments that strongly linked hypertension and other health issues to the levels of sodium in our diets provided a powerful message that we need to address this issue now. We’re pleased to offer an important, positive alternative.”

About Ocean’s Flavor

In 2003, Al Kirchner and Alan Fisher co-owners of Ocean’s Flavor had the idea to produce a natural, less sodium sea salt. After searching the world for a suitable location, they came across Baja California, Mexico which possessed the right environment, the ideal climate and the required processing support that would be needed for optimum natural less sodium salt production.

In two short years Ocean’s Flavor has become the world’s leader in the sale and distribution of natural less sodium sea salts; furnishing to soup-, vegetable-, ingredient-, seasonings-, frozen food-, beef- and poultry-producing companies both domestically and internationally. Ocean’s Flavor is ahead of the curve in reducing sodium by “thinking natural,” and keeping the taste of what real less sodium sea salt should taste like.




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