Objective: The salt (NaCl) content of bread, obtained from Belgium and 25 other regions or countries worldwide, was analyzed to evaluate the importance of bread as a source of dietary salt in a population.
Methods: A total of 1166 dried bread samples were analyzed using a hot HCl extraction technique followed by flame photometry and performed by the same laboratory technician in Leuven (Belgium); 534 samples from Leuven were analyzed over 10 time periods from 1967-73 to 1992 together with 562 samples from 11 other European countries, 44 from the United States and Peru, and 26 from Asia.
Results: The average mean salt content of fresh bread (= dried bread times 0.6) in European countries was 12.4 +/- 1.7 g/kg for white and 13 +/- 1.0 g/kg for brown bread. In Japan and Korea it was about 8.5 g/kg and in Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal, and Laos about 5 g/kg. The mean sodium/potassium ratio with Na and K in mmol was 8.0 for white and 4.5 for brown bread, much higher than the recommended value of 1.0. Bread with a very low salt content was found in certain areas of Peru, Spain, and Italy.
Conclusion: The overall salt content of bread in Western countries is excessive, and a gradual reduction is highly desirable.