Repeat exposure: No need for low salt diet to alter salt preferences

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

“To our knowledge, this work is the first to demonstrate a downward shift in preference for salt in the absence of a corresponding low sodium diet,” said the research team behind the study,
“To our knowledge, this work is the first to demonstrate a downward shift in preference for salt in the absence of a corresponding low sodium diet,” said the research team behind the study,

Related tags: Salt reduction, Sodium, Food

Multiple exposures to lower salt foods could encourage consumers to prefer them, even when they are consuming a high salt diet, according to new research.

The study, published in Food Quality and Preference,​ aimed to determine whether liking for reduced sodium and low sodium tomato juice could increase following repeated exposure over an extended period by randomly assigning participants to receive either ‘abrupt’ or ‘gradual’ reduction strategies.

Led by Nuala Bobowski from the University of Minnesota, the team reported that in both salt reduction groups liking for all reduced salt juices increased at the final taste test relative to the initial taste test.

“In addition, subjects in both groups experienced a downward shift in preference for salt in tomato juice, indicating that repeated exposure may be sufficient to alter preference for salt in a food in the absence of a low sodium diet,”​ the team revealed.

“That salt preference may be altered by exposure alone within the context of a high salt diet is promising for both the food industry and individual consumers,”​ they added.

Salt reduction strategy

Bobowski and her team noted that for all of the important contributions made in the past few years that have aided in a better understanding of how to approach salt reduction, it remains a complicated issue.

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“We do not know what type of national salt reduction strategy would be effective for reducing dietary salt, not only because of the important role salt plays in food manufacturing, but also because reducing a population’s salt intake to levels as low as those recommended has never been attempted,” ​wrote the team.

“Both the United Kingdom and Finland are often cited as examples of successful population dietary salt intake; however, the last estimates from both nations suggested that their reduced intakes were roughly equivalent to the current intake of Americans,”​ they said.

Study details

The team aimed to determine whether liking for reduced sodium and low sodium tomato juice could increase following repeated exposure over an extended period.

Eighty-three adult subjects participated in the three-part study: an initial taste test, a 16-week longitudinal study, and a final taste test. During this 16 week period, participants consumed juice either abruptly reduced in salt to a low sodium target at week four, or juice gradually reduced in salt to reach the same target at week 14.

In both the initial and final taste test, subjects gave liking ratings of four tomato juice samples ranging in sodium from 640 mg (a concentration comparable to a commercially available product) to 136 mg per 237 ml serving (a low sodium concentration).

“Though liking for the juice with the highest salt content was unchanged between taste tests, liking for all reduced salt juices increased at the final taste test relative to the initial taste test among subjects in both salt reduction groups,”​ revealed the team.

Indeed, Bobowski and her colleagues said that the downward shift in preference for salt in tomato juice occurred with repeated exposure to reduced and low sodium juice for both the gradual and abrupt salt reduction groups, respectively, despite exposure to saltier foods over the course of the study

“To our knowledge, this work is the first to demonstrate a downward shift in preference for salt in the absence of a corresponding low sodium diet,”​ they said.

“Though gradual salt reduction is widely accepted, the approach of reducing sodium in one to a few foods at a time may be an alternative yet equally effective means by which to reduce dietary salt intake, both on a national scale via changes made at the industry level, and in the home of the individual consumer.” 

Source: Food Quality and Preference
Volume 39, January 2015, Pages 40–45, doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2014.06.005
“Preference for salt in a food may be alterable without a low sodium diet”
Authors: Nuala Bobowski, Aaron Rendahl, Zata Vickers

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2 comments

aboute jodized

Posted by Hanna Smigielska,

Sea Salt is jodized too, and this procedure is like in normal salt.

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Regular Iodized Salt vs. Sea Salt

Posted by Mary Krause,

Are there studies on the taste & effect of these 2 basic different types of salt?

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