salt may be particularly relied upon to maintain the taste of the product (Lobstein et al., 2008).
Rice and most pastas are very low in sodium (Brady, 2002; Van der Veer, 1985); however, salt is often added for flavor during preparation. Many flavored rice and pasta products contain salt in the seasoning, with salt sometimes being used as a bulk carrier to evenly distribute flavorings used in smaller quantities.
Sodium plays multiple roles in breads and other baked goods. Salt, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium salts of leavening acids are the main sources of sodium in baked goods, accounting for 95 percent of the sodium in these products (Reichenbach and Singer, 2008). In most baked goods, salt is used to improve product taste and flavor. Without salt, many baked goods have an insipid taste (Van der Veer, 1985).
Salt is also responsible for fermentation control and texture in yeast-raised breads. In the mass production of bread, salt levels are used as a tool to control yeast activity. Salt reduces yeast activity by reducing water activity and damaging the membrane of the yeast cells. If too much salt is used, doughs may rise too slowly. However, if too little is added, fermentation may proceed too quickly or “wild” fermentations may occur, resulting in doughs that are gassy and sour with poor texture (Hutton, 2002; Vetter, 1981). Fermentation that occurs too quickly can also create major problems on production lines (Hui, 2007), resulting in poor-quality products or complete loss of large production batches. Table 4-6 lists the sodium content of selected grain products. Salt can also interact with gluten, one of the major proteins in flour responsible for the texture of baked goods, to ease the handling of dough during processing. The result of this interaction reduces the stickiness of the dough (Hutton, 2002; Vetter, 1981).
Quick breads, cakes, and cookies typically rely on chemical leavening agents rather than yeast to quickly create airy textures. Some of the most popular leavening agents contain sodium, including baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and baking powder (a combination of sodium bicarbonate and one or a combination of the following: potassium hydrogen tartrate, sodium aluminum sulfate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium acid phosphate) (Bender, 2006).
Other additives used in bread may contribute minor amounts of sodium. One of these additives is sodium stearoyl lactylate, an emulsifier used to improve the volume of breads as well as to maintain the textural