Sodium and Potassium Content in Bread

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Bread is one of the staple foods in the world. It is usually prepared by baking dough of water and flour, and often additional ingredients, such as butter or salt, to improve the taste. There are different types of bread which can be divided into two main categories: white and brown breads. Brown bread is a designation often  given to breads made with notable amounts of whole grain flour.  The main types of flours are used to make brown bread include wheat or rye sometimes with addition of other dark colored ingredients such as coffee and molasses.  On the other hand, white bread is a type of bread that is made from wheat flour in which the germ and the bran layers are removed to obtain light colored flour product. 

Bread is one of the nutrient-rich food products. To start with, both white and brown breads have large amount of components of carbohydrates as compared to other types of nutrients. This makes bread very rich in carbohydrates and, therefore, the consumer of the bread tends to consume a high amount of nutrients. Bread also contains a number of other nutrients, vitamins, such as vitamin B, iron and fatty acids. The wheat embryo or germ is rich with oil, vitamin B, fat and vitamin E. It should be discarded when it comes to its milling given that fat is liable to become rancid when it is stored. Wheat also contains different types of minerals,  the latter include: potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.  The process of baking allows to preserve all the nutrients and minerals in ready-made bread product.  In most parts of the world bread tends to the cheapest nutrients-rich food item. Bread does not only provide a number of crucial nutrients, but naturally it has low fat, sugar and cholesterol content.

The amount of sodium and potassium in in any type of bread is dependent on the amount of salt and other ingredients. The higher the salt content in the bread, the higher is the concentration of sodium elements. On the contrary, the lower the salt content, the lower the level of sodium concentration in the bread.  Studies provide that one should eat less amount of salt in order to reduce the incidences of one contracting high blood pressure. As a result one may reduce the chances of suffering stroke, heart diseases, kidney damages and congestive heart failures. It is also important for one to reduce the amount of Sodium or Potassium that one partakes with an aim of preventing illnesses that come as a result of poor eating habits.

Cardiovascular disease, which is one of the leading causes of disability and death, is usually associated with insufficient control of blood pressure. There is a stable relationship that exists between the risk of cardiovascular and blood pressure which depends on a number of factors. Different studies have shown that in order for the cardiovascular diseases to be controlled there is need for one to control his/her blood pressure. It is important to note that the blood pressure is usually caused by poor eating habits. Intake of high levels of sodium and potassium is the reason which has been blamed for causing high levels of blood pressure among individuals. Therefore, there is need for one to regulate the amount of potassium and sodium consumed. Bread is the one of the popular food products consumed which contains the two abovementioned elements. Therefore, the knowledge on the exact content of sodium and potassium in bread is important in order to help the consumers to make informed choices on which type of bread to consume depending on its nutrient content.

Photoelectric fame photometry, which is the subdivision of atomic spectroscopy, is used in various organic chemistry analyses in order to determine the concentration of different metal ions for instance, potassium, sodium, calcium, lithium, and cesium. During the process of flame photometry metal ions that are used in the scale tend to take the nature of atoms. This method of determining the content of various metal ions in a given product has been recommended by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry; this committee is mandated to deal with the Spectroscopic Nomenclature and argued to equate the flame photometry to the flame atomic emission spectrometry (FAES.)

Therefore, the major sources of potassium and sodium in bread are wheat and salt. This study employs the flame photometry method aiming  to find out how one can determine the levels of sodium and potassium in bread. This study is concerned with comparing sodium and potassium content in white and brown bread.


The samples (WQS3-BBS3) were taken from the oven then weighted. The dried samples were grinded with blender in the plastic beaker.1 gram from the dried samples was put into the beaker (50ml) then digested by added 10ml of Nitric acid (glass pipettes used). The solutions (WQS3-BBS3) were put on the HOTPLATE at 45-55C for two hours. The samples (BQS1-BQS2-BQS3) and (BBS1-BBS2) have been diluted in the volumetric flask (25ml) by adding (2500µl) from the solution; deionizer water was then added to the mark. The solutions (WQS3-BBS3) were moved from the HOTPLATE to cold then added 40ml of deionizer water.The solutions were filtered into volumetric flask (100ml) used Whatman1 filter paper with glass wool (used funnel). Then deionizer water was added to the mark.

The aim of doing this experiment was to determine the sodium and potassium concentration in different types of bread. To work on this experiment I needed to dry the samples using an oven (approx 800C), homogenize the samples using a mortar and pestle, and digest them in a small volume (approx 5ml) in concentrated nitric acid. Therefore, there was a small risk of burns from the oven and acid, the aftermath of which can cause irritation.

Sample preparation.

Small samples of bread (approx 1g) were dried in an oven (approx 80°C) and then grounded/ macerated using blender / food processor. These samples were then digested in nitric acid (10ml), filtered and made up to 100ml in a volumetric flask using DI water.

Sample analysis.

The samples were analyzed using the flame photometry method. The analysis included a range of standards made from Sodium chloride or Potassium chloride.

 Flame photometric is based on dissociation of the alkali metals and alkaline earth metals by thermal energy from the frame source. Thermal excitation makes some of the atoms excited to a higher energy level that makes them unstable. Direct absorption techniques are used to measure absorbance of light as a result of electron excitation. Subsequent loss of energy results in movement of excited atoms to low energy ground state emitting some radiations that can be visualized in the visible region of the spectrum. Light absorbance resulting from electrons excitation can be measured using direct absorption approach at the same time measuring the intensity of emitting radiation using what is known as emission approach.

There are different aspects of flame photometer. To start with there is the source of the flame; in most cases it is a burner that is supposed to provide the flame and maintain it constant while at the same time keeping the temperatures at constant rates. Secondly, there is the mixing of chamber and nebulizer which takes part in transportation of the homogeneous solution of the substances into the flame at a steady rate.  Optical system is another important component of the flame photometer. It usually consists of three elements: lens, convex mirror and filter.

Convex mirror aids in transmitting light that is emitted from various atoms as well as focusing the emissions to the lens. Convex lens on the other hand, aids in focusing the light into a point which is known as slit. Mirror reflection passes through the slit to reach to the various filters. In most cases it tends to isolate the wavelength which is  measured from extraneous emissions. Thus, it is usually used as an interference color filter.


In this study, a total of 10 samples of white and brown bread were chosen from five different retail shops across the UK. In the study the salt percentage in the bread was either lower or higher starting from 2% and above. Values of the salt that give a value higher than 2% were said to be above the limit standard according to the World Health Organization guidelines.

The solutions (WQS3-BBS3) were diluted in the ratio 1:10 into volumetric flask (25ml) by adding (2500µl) from the solution; deionizer water was then added to the mark. All the solutions were read in the flame photometry and recorded in tables. The results of this step are represented in the table below. NaCl solution was made by adding 1.90 grams of NaCl and deionizer water up to the mark of the volumetric flask (1L).KCl solution was made by adding 2.54 gram of KCl and deionizer water up to the mark of the volumetric flask (1L) .Standards (5,10,15, and 20) were made from the solutions (NaCl and KCl) into volumetric flask (100ml) by adding 10ml of Nitric acid to each standards (5,10,15, and 20) (NaCl and KCl). The procedure is finalized by adding deionizer water up to the marks.

Recovery of potassium and sodium which was added to homogenates or liquids became inclusive when the flame photometry was about 97.8% and 98.3% recovery in comparison when the estimations were done using the chemical analysis which recorded 97.4% and 96.8% recovery. Testing of the liquid bread samples using flame method provides accurate results. Flam spectrophotometry provided more precise results when the estimations were read directly. The study revealed that standard chemical assay for sodium with the ratio of K: Na in the bread samples was very high. Given that uranyl zinc acetate provided results with errors, due to sodium and potassium were co-precipitated and the sodium content was estimated to show high levels of sodium in the white bread samples in comparison to the brown bread. Presence of potassium in the precipitation was shown by release at the potassium wavelength in the glow.

The results were high so the standards were made again, but with less volume of the solution (NaCl/KCl). Standards (1,2,3 and 4) were made from the solutions (NaCl and KCl) into volumetric flask (100ml) by adding 10ml of Nitric acid to each standard (1,2,3 and 4) then micro pipettes used to put the solutions (NaCl and KCl) into the flasks. Finally, deionizer water was added up to the mark. The table below shows the standards 1,2,3 and 4 (100ml volumetric flask). The study showed that 17.4% of salt in the white bread samples was within the levels, which determined by the standard WHO limits; the remaining 82.1% were within the standard limits.

The study revealed that the salt level in the brown bread samples was higher than the standard limit while this tended to reduce in the white bread samples. The statistical analysis shows that there was no significant statistical difference (p=0.234) between the percentage of salt levels that were recorded in the white and brown bread samples. It is important to note that randomized controlled studies carried out in the last 3 decades have shown that managing blood pressure can play a crucial role in reducing the risk of an individual contracting cardiovascular disease. Failure by individuals to reach the required levels of blood pressure usually contributes to high levels of hypertension complications among the population. Past studies have indicated a close relationship between the amount of salt in one’s diet and the level of blood pressure. Bread is one of the most consumed food items  around the world, and, therefore it can help in controlling the level of blood pressure among individuals.  Sodium and potassium are the elements that determine the level of an individual’s blood pressure, thus their content should be regulated to ensure the healthy living the population. This can only be achieved by ensuring that one consumes the right levels of sodium or potassium in any given food item. To reach the abovementioned aim, a number of studies were performed over the years.

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