Does salt have a function in making yeast bread, other than contributing to flavor?

Yes. Salt has an effect on both carbohydrate- and protein-splitting, and thereby wields significant influence on the texture of the finished loaf. In order to grow and produce carbon dioxide, yeasts need a steady supply of fuel. Initially, that comes from the small amount of sucrose used in making bread, which yeasts are able to break down to glucose and fructose. Once that is used up, they must depend on the flour for their food.

Enzymes in the flour are able to split the starch into the disaccharide, maltose, which the yeast can then break down further. A little salt in yeast dough promotes the actions of the starch-splitting enzymes in the flour, and thereby helps maintain a steady supply of maltose to the yeast. Salt also inhibits the action of protein-splitting enzymes in flour that would otherwise weaken the protein (gluten) and adversely effect the texture.

Several times recently I have seen references to 1990 Health Objectives for the Nation. Can you explain what there are?

In 1979, the Surgeon General's report, "Healthy People," identified five broad goals for improving the health of Americans in the 1980s. In 1980, more than 500 health experts from both government and the private sector met to develop objectives for each of the areas designated in that report. Fifteen topics formed a framework for no less than 227 objectives to give direction to the nation's first program for health promotion and disease prevention.

As outlined in a volume entitled, "Promoting Health/Preventing Disease: Objectives for the Nation," published by the Public Health Service, the 15 topics fell into three general categories: preventive health services, such as high blood-pressure control and immunizations; health protection, including fluoridation and dental health and occupational safety and health; and health promotion. Nutrition came under the latter category, with 15 goals of its own.

A midcourse review of progress, conducted in 1985, revealed that none of the nutrition objectives had yet been met. Several did appear on track for 1990, if present trends continue. These included increased rates of breast-feeding, gains in public knowledge of appropriate weight-loss practices and of dietary factors related to major diseases, reduction in blood cholesterol levels, and the development of a national nutrition-monitoring system.

Some objectives will not be met, among them a downward trend in overweight among adults; eliminating all growth retardation in children; nutrition labeling of all foods; nutrition education in the curriculum in all states in elementary and secondary schools; and nutrition education in all routine health contacts.

1987, Washington Post Writers Grou