The following is an expanded version of a comment I originally posted as part of another discussion on The Fresh Loaf. I thought I'd post it separately under its own heading here, as it's a topic that interests me and that I haven't seen brought up much in a bread baking context. Interested in others' comments.
My partner has some kidney impairment, which necessitates her being on a low-sodium diet - that was one of the factors that led to my baking pizzas and bread (just shows, every downside has an upside!).
I decided from the outset to support her by sticking to the same diet. I figured lowering my salt intake wouldn't hurt, either. Well, I was wrong - it did for a while. I do the cooking, and of course am used to tweaking the seasoning to bring out the best in the flavours. I felt very hamstrung when I first began low-salt cooking, and became quite depressed intially, thinking that this was the end of recipes I had worked on for years, and worse, the end of many of those flavours, ingredients and dishes that add so much to the quality of life. Almost my entire cooking repertoire had to change - and many dishes probably had to be culled!
However, as well as figuring out workarounds to salt using various spices and different cooking techniques, as time went on I found I became far more sensitised to salt. Now, many commercial offerings are way too salty for me - including what was once my favourite local sourdough bread. I have no doubt that the same would be true of my 'old' cooking pre the low-sodium restrictions, were I to revert straight back to it.
So, to bread. I generally halve the recommended salt in bread and pizza recipes, and although this is going to sound less than credible to many, I find the flavours improved! I've always been very into bread, but I can honestly state that I have never enjoyed it so much as now. The 'true' flavour of the wheat and other grains comes to the fore if you do not cloud them with salt. Using 1/2 quantities of salt is a long way from NO salt, however - that is too bland a prospect to contemplate (not to mention the chemical role salt plays in bread dough).
My strong suspicions are that the traditional 2% of salt is too much to a palate that is not de-sensitised to salt through excessive intake (and let's face it, most of us probably do habitually have too much salt).
The big surprise for me has been that what started off as a somewhat resented medically-based reduction in salt has now ended up in a new appreciation of flavour! I can only speak for myself, but I think it's worth trying reducing salt in your bread rather than assuming the 2% 'rule' to be ever-applicable. Maybe reducing by half as I do is too big a drop for those who are accustomed to high-salt food, but try reducing it by a third, for example, and see if it doesn't taste better! I'd be most interested in comments from anyone who tries this.
I used to think salt content in all food was determined by some sort of absolute flavour scale. Celeb chefs judging aspiring cooks on TV cooking competition shows, for example, often screw their faces up on tasting and declare "not enough salt" - this is invalid, although you'd never convince them of that. The fact is - and I can now state this through experience - the quality of saltiness, of 'too much' or 'too little' or 'just right', is subjective. This applies to all food, I believe, including bread.