Scientists add medicinal herbs to a low-sodium sausage matrix.
Scientists at Anhalt Univ. of Applied Sciences add medicinal herbs to a low-sodium sausage matrix.
The term “healthy sausage” may sound like an oxymoron. Nonetheless, it’s exactly what the Foodstuff and Nutrition Research Working Group of the Anhalt Univ. of Applied Sciences in Bernburg in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt have developed.

A number of sausage flavors have been developed and more are in the works. They all are reduced-sodium poultry sausages enhanced with medicinal herbs. They are inherently lower in fat because they are made with lean meat, according to the group’s leader, Wolfram Schnäckel, a professor of food technology. For succulence, some heart-healthy sunflower oil is added to the meat matrix.

When approaching the subject of “healthy sausage,” Schnäckel explains that reduced-fat and salt sausages have been around for some time. The team wanted to go beyond such macronutrients and explore the addition of better-for-you ingredients. This led them to formulating sausages with medicinal herbs instead of common spices.

“We have identified herbs that have a positive effect upon the gastrointestinal tract, have tested their aroma and flavor and narrowed them down,” he says.

All of the identified herbs have a medically proven positive influence on the digestive tract. They are included in an acknowledged positive list of the Expert Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency and of the World Health Organization. Herbs such as aniseed, caraway, fennel, ginger and others are added at levels to exert a preventive effect when 50 grams of sausage is consumed daily.

Adding herbs to comminuted meats is not new; however, adding them at efficacious levels for health benefits and marketing them as “functional foods” is different, but not incomprehensible. Beverages, snack foods and even yogurts have been known to take this approach to differentiate in the marketplace. Why not meat?