AgCenter scientist uses ‘nanosalt’ to reduce sodium content of foods

(05/23/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – Marvin Moncada, an LSU AgCenter food scientist, has found a way to use less salt in foods without sacrificing flavor.

Moncada developed nanosalt, which is a powder made of salt particles about 1,000 times smaller than kosher salt. By reducing the size of the particles to make a powder instead of coarse granules, the salt can cover more surface area of foods and enhance the perception of saltiness.

“All your taste buds are responding to the saltiness because it’s everywhere,” Moncada said.

Nanosalt is the first product of its kind, and Moncada is hoping to market it after completing more lab tests. It offers a natural route to reducing the sodium content of foods, as opposed to using salt substitutes like potassium chloride.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but most Americans eat double that amount, Moncada said.

“It’s why we are having a lot of cases of high blood pressure, problems with cardiovascular diseases and so on,” he said. “In Louisiana, we eat a lot of fried foods, a lot of seasoning, and all of them have high salt content. At least we could have options, and this could be one option for those types of foods.”

The nanosalt is made using a nanospray drier, which sprays saltwater through a narrow nozzle into a hot chamber, where small droplets form. The water then evaporates and leaves behind a substance with a consistency similar to powdered sugar.

Nanosalt particles measure between 500 and 1,200 nanometers — much smaller than a typical 1- to 2-millimeter piece of kosher salt.

Moncada recently used the nanosalt to make cheese crackers — a popular snack food, but one laden with sodium. The nanosalt crackers had up to 50 percent less sodium than their commercially available counterparts.

In sensory tests, a majority of consumers said they’d be willing to purchase the nanosalt crackers if they were available, despite having less sodium, Moncada said.

“They did not find differences in saltiness between the regular salt content formulation versus 25 to 50 percent less salt content,” he said.

The nanosalt can only be used as a topping on products that don’t have water that would dilute the salt, like crackers, chips or fries, Moncada said.

Another potential use for the nanosalt is in the sodium chloride solutions used in nebulizers for asthma treatment, Moncada said. His nanosalt particles are slightly smaller than those currently used in most nebulizers, which would offer more salt particles in the solution, he said.

Moncada has worked on the nanosalt project with AgCenter biological engineer Cristina Sabliov and dairy foods technology researcher Kayanush Aryana.

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Marvin Moncada, an LSU AgCenter food scientist, has developed nanosalt, a powder made of salt particles about 1,000 times smaller than kosher salt. He is seen in this photo working with the nanospray drier used to make the nanosalt. Photo by Olivia McClure

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Nanosalt particles, which are about 1,000 times smaller than kosher salt particles, are seen under a microscope. Nanosalt particles measure between 500 and 1,200 nanometers. Photo provided by Marvin Moncada

5/23/2016 6:55:41 PM
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