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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Taste (sic) Salt Varies Between Individuals

Duh. Old news.
Low-salt foods may be harder for some people to like than others, according to a study by a Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences food scientist. The research indicates that genetics influence some of the difference in the levels of salt we like to eat.

Those conclusions are important because recent, well-publicized efforts to reduce the salt content in food have left many people struggling to accept fare that simply does not taste as good to them as it does to others, pointed out John Hayes, assistant professor of food science, who was lead investigator on the study.

Diets high in salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. That is why public health experts and food companies are working together on ways to help consumers lower salt intake through foods that are enjoyable to eat. This study increases understanding of salt preference and consumption...

"Most of us like the taste of salt. However, some individuals eat more salt, both because they like the taste of saltiness more, and also because it is needed to block other unpleasant tastes in food," said Hayes. "Supertasters, people who experience tastes more intensely, consume more salt than do nontasters. Snack foods have saltiness as their primary flavor, and at least for these foods, more is better, so the supertasters seem to like them more."

However, supertasters also need higher levels of salt to block unpleasant bitter tastes in foods such as cheese, Hayes noted. "For example, cheese is a wonderful blend of dairy flavors from fermented milk, but also bitter tastes from ripening that are blocked by salt," he said. "A supertaster finds low-salt cheese unpleasant because the bitterness is too pronounced."

Hayes cited research done more than 75 years ago by a chemist named Fox and a geneticist named Blakeslee, showing that individuals differ in their ability to taste certain chemicals. As a result, Hayes explained, we know that a wide range in taste acuity exists, and this variation is as normal as variations in eye and hair color.
Which is why idiot laws and enforcement regimes are doomed to fail - at a wasteful cost.

As long as table salt is legal, expect the shaker to get shaken.

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