Salt in food

Why is salt added to food?

Salt is not just salt in foods, it has a number of other effects which is crucial for the final result.


Salt is one of the most important flavouring agents in food. Salt doesn't just taste salt, it enhances other flavours, it balances the sweetness and suppress bitterness.


Salt acts as a preservative by altering the availability of water in foods, thereby depriving microbes from using available carbohydrates as a nutrient.

Texture enhancer

Salt alters the structure of proteins and the interaction of proteins with other components (e.g. water, fat, proteins), which impacts the texture of foods.

Nutrient source

Salt contains the element sodium, which is an essential nutrient needed by the body.

Acts as a binder

When salt is added to processed meats, it restructures the proteins, which then act as a binding and emulsifying agent.

Effects of salt in different foods


Salt influences the water activity and increases the shelf life naturally without any other additives.
It influences the dough texture, makes it stronger and tighter.
Controls the fermentation rate of yeast and dough development.


Curing increases shelf life time.
Salt increases water-holding capacity and a more moist texture.
Reducing and preventing microbial growth.
Enhance flavour and colour.

Dressings and Sauces

Enhances the flavour.
Prevents microbial growth.


Salt and milk proteins interact to provide an essential water-binding function.
Acts as a flavor enhancer and preservative in cheeses.

Snack foods

Salt plays a flavor role in cereals and provides a texture and flavor enhancing function in crackers.

Is salt dangerous?

Salt contains sodium and chlorine (NaCl). Sodium is one of the most important ions for us to have a good fluid balance, the functionality of the cells' signaling system and to be fertile.

However, we consume too much salt today. We should halve our intake from 12 grams per day to 6 grams.

Why do we use nitrite pickling salt?

The food industry buy nitrite salt (common salt + a little nitrite). Nitrite is a very effective bactericidal agent. Especially against one of the most dangerous bacteria, the clostridia bacterium. Without nitrite in the salt, the meat would survive a few days and some of us could be severely ill. An additional effect is that the nitrite salt retains the red color of the meat.

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Interesting links

Iodine deficiency in Europe, WHO
Link to report

World Iodine Association
Link to homepage

Iodine Global Network