Don't put down the salt shaker yet—American consumers are confused on how to best reduce sodium intake, according to a recent study conducted by Chicago-based Mintel.
While almost six in 10 Americans (58%) say they watch their sodium intake, new research on consumer attitudes toward sodium reveals that there may be some confusion on where their sodium is actually coming from. Some 72% of consumers who are currently limiting their sodium intake say they cook with less salt, and 64% say they salt their food less, however only 39% buy fewer packaged foods and less than one-third (32%) say they eat at restaurants less often.
"These statistics show the confusion that Americans are facing when it comes to reducing sodium in their diet," says Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel. "The majority of sodium that people consume comes from packaged foods and restaurant fare, not what they're preparing at home. Packaged food manufacturers and restaurants would be wise to increase the flavor of low-sodium foods using herbs or spices to combat the confusion and show customers that low sodium does not equal bad taste."
When trying to add flavor without salty additions, the majority of home cooks look to spices and aromatics as well. Some 83% of respondents who are cutting back on sodium in their diet chose to cook with herbs like rosemary, chives and cilantro, while 82% spice up their meals with different aromatics and seasonings like curry, pepper and garlic. Another 82% have used spices like basil and nutmeg to help limit their sodium intake, while 77% opted for infused oils. In addition, it seems Americans are very open to the idea of a low-sodium way of life. A mere 21% of consumers think that low-salt food items don't taste as good, and very few consumers (7%) agree that low-sodium products are too expensive.
"American consumers are willing to invest in low-sodium products and restaurant options. Most brands that make low-sodium products don't overtly market them as such for fear of turning off consumers who want tasty food, but it appears people are not turned off by the idea of poor taste as previously thought," says Krol.